This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
A documentary radio drama chronicling the debates over the DP Act of 1948. Reenactments of interviews with refugees living in DP camps in Germany and speeches made by Congressmen in June 1948. Critiques range from moral, political and economic positions, the restrictions imposed by the DP act; fine points of the legislation including quotas; dates necessary for qualification as a DP and work requirements made of DPs are included in this historical account. - such as the promise of secure employment before arriving in America and/or the necessity for some kind of agricultural expertise.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 2298
Municipal archives id: LT992
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
We think. Every misery. In New York. With thank you very much America will never forget that moment. They take and. It's a great you know they can. Do nice freedom. Of Democracy thank you very much. That is the boys of the D.P. the displaced person. He's speaking to you on the occasion of his landing in America last month now listen to the story of the D.P. the delayed. During the next few minutes we will tell you the transcribed story of one displaced person and his family and Americans and what we did not what our Congress has done and what it has not done. To help. The world and in addition we will bring you actual interviews and statements made by among the first arrive in America just a few short weeks ago. Now here is your no later than graphic I'll ask you to pretend with me that today is December twenty second anniversary of the arrival in America of the first displaced press they were displaced from England in the Netherlands because of their religious conviction and they landed at a place called Plymouth on December twenty second sixteen hundred twenty these were the pilgrims who agreed among each other in a solemn compact we do covenant to enact just unequal laws for the general good just. For the general good keep that phrase in mind it'll come in handy today we're concerned with another band of delayed. Delayed and there are red tape listeners. Listeners selfishness and misplaced pride by all the things and all the men would keep America from its proud tradition of sanctuary for the oppressed and weary and downtrodden. We're going to tell you the story of these delayed pilgrims But first we want you to meet some of them and hear what they had to say on the day of their arrival in America. We took the microphone and recording equipment out of the boat on the day of the press. So that you would be able to hear their voice. Now we'd like to talk. With you give us your name. What nationality are you. And where you were in a concentration. Camp. Yes we've heard a lot about some of the other camps I know it's distasteful to you to recall them but would you mind giving us some of your experiences telling us something about the conditions in the concentration camps where you were. And. Where. Any. Time that you might be able to go to the United States. And. If. You are. Let me introduce. Your arrival he is a middle aged man from Poland that's more than a little nervous and shy. As they have you will be able to. Tell you in advance that his name is. Where you're going in there. In America where you're going out. Because. You have family there. And you have your plan to work there yeah you have a grade or a project in the. Men and I think that the main the main thing is to be a free man in the break I put it well and good if. There's one more of our new neighbors who might like you to meet. Perhaps more assured. There's more room for competence in our heart she had more time to make up for what has happened and she too has experienced but she begins by telling you where they money. And their country to come from from Hungary and could you tell me were you in a country. In land. One year. And where other members of your family along with. You were along. Why were you put in the. Right and what what if you're right you were in there were you part of the work yet. You. Think. And how did you manage to get out of. There by them other than the idea. Of you've been at. The Brink and frankly working there if you're from your family there. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah or. Are you going out country. You're going to New York to live there or do you have. A. Break. And. You plan to work. And you hope to get employment there and I think well I'm sure that you will have good luck to you thank you thank you very much. Neighbors and they've given you. A small handful of back about. The conditions they have met in Europe were a classic understatement very bad. Perhaps because as suggested they have strong nature and they're happy to be here because Catherine put it in America everybody is a human. These were three D.P.'s then and it might be wise to go now from the specific to the General and get some facts about the D.P.'s as a group what would your questions be raised you might ask just exactly what is the piece of broadly speaking a D.P. is a displaced person that is a person whose roots were torn up by the war who's been left without a home to which you can return without a country where we can or want to find a home how many of these people are there more than a million perhaps one hundred fifty thousand can and will be repatriated but at least eight hundred fifty thousand cannot all while they both Czechs poll Romanians Yugoslavs Hungary and Catholics Protestants Jews Greek Orthodox men women children who is responsible for them we are humanity it more specifically the United Nations has assumed responsibility part on that basis how great it would have been the responsibility of the United States on the basis of up a national contributions to under our leaders given sanctuary to seven hundred ninety four thousand on the basis of our population as compared to that of other countries no less than four hundred thousand how many are we in fact inviting to come and live with us two hundred thousand as a lot outstanding. That's a big difference how come how come. Because of what happened late last spring in the Senate of the United States. And that as much as anything as why we want to tell the story of one. Typical story the story of. It might be. Just quite normal every name among people is closely related to liberty and the Slavic talk but we have no wish to be ironic but call this man Lynn which is also an ordinary name and ambiguous name can be used to describe. Jack Catholic any land any religion the same sort of ambiguity which should be but is not applied to who shall be offered sanctuary and a new life in America. Calling. It the time of early last June at a table in an office of Marian talk displaced persons camp facing an investigator a man in firing on behalf of the United Nations into the facts of Lynn's case Lind is a Big Mac. The investigator across I understand you wish to go to America that's right and you won't mind if I ask a few questions. We my wife and I. And the rest of your family. My. Brother. In nine hundred forty one. How was it they didn't. I'm a big man and they thought I would feed you wasn't it about that time the Nazis ordered the special killing of the children. Without a watch invent it. Not in February you have to vote at my wife and I remember I remember you. Have to do something. That is sure no. Of course. Of course I ask questions I know the answer to it I know why I should do something like that I just said. I would see a bit of both thinking. Maybe that that she was there and. They caught up on a break up and get to where can we go with Catron and I don't know you and I. Have never find makeup to get. A better thought you. Know. What do you see. Under the window at home but you don't and the floorboards overhead all the spirit. I suspect. You must keep quiet. If you happen to be. Coming. Yes. I am. Sure there's a child here that five years old wage. But you mean old guy she died. But that's seven months. Big. So I actually find that. They. Might have it. All Be quiet. Now. You. Especially at first only five years old hard to understand how long did you have to stay in the home for a day she only came out at night. To play. I mean how many days did she have to hide in the hope. On this same doom day while in talking to the U.N. investigator in Washington in the capital the Senate of the United States is debating the Displaced Person's bill of nine hundred forty eight Paul the wily Rev a call to A and maybe. There was a majority in the Senate of the United States in favor of a decent good bill a bill worthy about tradition but it was late in June shortly before Congress adjourns a handful of men was able to slide this act through and block all attempts to improve it at the time many senators Democrats as well as Republicans fought valiantly to uphold America's tradition our heritage America's responsibility to freedom listen to a plea of Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey as he spoke in June one thousand forty eight and we quote. It is in the interest of the United States. Gives voice to the conscience of the people of the United States we must not forget that this problem is one which grows out of victory in the war. The bill proposes to determine the eligibility of a displaced person. Whether or not he came into Germany between September first nineteen thirty nine and December twenty second nineteen forty five. This present a problem of difficulty which in my judgment should be carefully considered about two hundred thousand persecuted people played into our Western zone after the killing in Poland in the spring of nineteen forty six in light of the problem presented by this group of people who came into the Americans between nineteen forty five and nine hundred forty seven it would seem appropriate to make a change of the deadline as of Friday of birth nineteen forty seven How important is a date in the Marion Barry camp the U.N. official was asking when some further question. I'm interested in Gates' if you don't mind the years for instance do you remember when it was that you left Villa and. Oh yes I remember what in one hundred forty four nine hundred forty four but that was before the end of the war yes by nine hundred forty four there were only a handful of us left in a villa. It's only a short time ago four years but already it is beginning to be difficult to believe that we suffered so much as you were saying that you left the nine hundred forty four yes. Member how it happened. Then after so knowing. All of us. Cremation. What are we to do. How can we take over become really the only planet. There anywhere nearly thirty. Where to do what to come to my house and break it up between the ceiling off the top floor and there's not too much air space up there are people not be able to live that long but if a guardian. Oh you are coming to I want to. Defeat this site maybe telling others. Everybody follow me. They fall. Between the ceiling and the roof of the building I lived and we lay for two days and terrible thoughts went through our brains and put the torch to the whole section guess if you shot it would not take many. Of us are there screams I heard your man lives in the car and they were going to use gas cheaper than. But they. Just seem. To want to go on living. The home. And one by one to join the peasants looting our homes to mix with them one by one innocently and unnoticed out of history you asked me what it was. It was the late for all of nine hundred forty four the dates are important you came to a camp then in one thousand forty four. Then. Before the war it was gone and I think the government announced but if I had been a Polish object before nine hundred thirty nine I could get back to Poland so I took my family. But the important. First came to a D.P. camp these people. Are important for even while answering the question the rest of you and officials in Washington in the United States senators are still discussing this question of the day. Some of them realize that this question of dates is all important to hundreds of thousands of B.P. others if they realize it gave no sign for in the official committee version of the bill in the version sponsored by Sen Rev A Call it is stated that he is not a displaced person but was registered in a D.P. camp later than December twenty second nineteen forty five Do you remember when it was you came to the D.P. camp Mr Lin if you don't imagine we can check it against the records I remember on and I agree he tried to make a hooman large we hope that I'd lost all would be peace and now was it before December twenty second one hundred forty five that you came to the D.P. camp before. No I don't think so I see the reason be fled from large the reason he came to the camp for the reasons we want to go to America is that in nineteen forty six there were riots in Poland. So it was not until after nine hundred forty six that you came to the D.P. camp for there was no reason to come on to after the terror began. But they were ever called Bill Stepien late but only those who were registered before December twenty second nineteen forty five can be regarded as D.P. So eliminated are all who after that date fled the added Semitic pogroms in Poland the terror of communism in Czechoslovakia your good Slavia and Romania. Have you any agricultural training Mr Lindh know I was a truck driver I see and do you now have a chance to get a job in America think so I'm. No you don't understand what I mean have you a job should you know when you get to America how would that be possible. It's difficult but you have no job promised. Tell me do you know where you're going to live if you go to America. But that's what I. Thought I would find a home for my wife but you have no house no no home or apartment guaranteed you as of this moment. Is it necessary to. See what I can do about your application for Americans to let you think. And see what I can do. For the workers strong here in Washington across the sea side of the Claude Pepper is likewise getting up is rising to make the last speech before the Senate votes on the Wiley river calm version of the Displaced Persons Act one thousand nine hundred forty eight and Senator Pepper is not wildly enthusiastic quote Mr President I cannot refrain from making a few observations with the appalling adequacy of the bill the Baltic states get half of all the quotas that are to be accommodated the Balts having one hundred seventy one thousand and the Jews having one hundred twenty eight thousand one hundred yet Mr President. The displaced persons have been so persecuted so cruelly massacred and butchered as have been the Jewish people the bill but it provides that fifty percent of the people who get pieces must have had agricultural background experience and training. There again criteria have been laid down which if not by design at least by effect discriminates against the most persecuted of all the displaced people is this bill designed to help supply needed help to agriculture or is the deal aimed to provide sanctuary for a persecuted miserable erected homeless people I wonder what sort of a country would have today if only the well to do if only those had been admitted had some financial sponsor or responsible character here to receive it as it become impossible for a poor man or a poor woman to come of this land of the free IF THE PRESIDENT Well the son of the new year to the senator from New Mexico we are now quoting from some of the travelers one of the lads suggested by the senator from Florida. Well what we're going to try to. Pull it out and all the other industrial cities of the nation be there always been such a regulation in the immigration law America would not have been the America we have today if it had not been for the immigrants who bought across our borders and took upon their strong shoulders the work of building America and thank God we did not ask whether they had any rich relatives in America when they came north that they will have saved and sanitary housing available to them without displacing some other person from such housing as required by this bill. The bill passed with all the restrictions which many valiant senators had so bitterly criticized it means that with great good luck maybe two hundred thousand displaced persons will in the next two years be able to find sanctuary here in America. We remember the words of one of the early arrivals the name is Helen Rand and as Tony who came in the first D.P. transport and lives now in Raleigh North Carolina she's talking about the American people in the back of a little then extend their generosity even convince her killer Manning Gemini and hoping to get down to management preferable because the only cure clear that may be placed happened tonight in Germany and it will be anything if human critics pick up his future it will be the eighty first Congress the new Congress which convened in January has high in its agenda the question of rewriting the Displaced Persons Act in such a way as to commit a law which should have been passed in the first place a law which testifies that America's high purposes and generous heart still govern a law like those the first pilgrims agreed to an act just and equal laws for the general good men like Lind waiting. You have just heard the arrival of the late pilgrims transcribed documentary radio drama by Peter Lyle produced by Ted uterus and directed by Frank PAC original music composed and directed by John Gotti the narrator was Ben Graff the cast included chromosome it Roger the coven John McGovern Brian Rayburn John Lazar lay on Johnny on old Robertson said oh so take us Allen Williams and Ron Cochran. A producer of this program wishes to express his appreciation to radio stations W M C A New York and W C O P Boston for the use of their recording facilities their lives are speaking. To. Very. Poor poor. The it fit to.