Prof. Owen Lattimore asserted today that he had not told a previous Senate investigation of a 1945 China policy recommendation to President Truman because he had "forgotten the whole business."The whole business being a meeting with the POTUS in the White House on July 3, 1945. Well sure, anyone could forget that. And Lattimore is definitely forgetful, if his 1950 book, Ordeal By Slander is any evidence. On page 201 of his book, he denies he has any important friends or acquaintances. He says that his attorney, Abe Fortas--himself important enough to be nominated to the Supreme Court by Lyndon Johnson, probably as a reward for Fortas having represented Johnson in 1948's Texas Senate primary dispute--urged Lattimore and his wife to make lists of all the influential people they could muster to speak up for him.
But the results were so disappointing that Fortas, according to Lattimore, said, "Good Lord! Don't you know anybody important?" To which, Lattimore responds, The fact of the matter is that I know very few "important people" as that term is ordinarily used.
Among the non-important people Lattimore definitely did know were, Chiang Kai-shek (to whose government he was named an adviser on the recommendation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Vice-President Henry Wallace (who Lattimore accompanied on a notorious Potemkin Village tour of Siberia in 1944). As, it happens, Wallace spoke out about his being duped at about the same time Lattimore was explaining away his poor memory to the Senate Internal Security subcommittee;
Russian hospitality is proverbial, and it is not surprising that on this occasion the Russians should do everything possible to impress the Vice-President of the country which was sending them so many billions of dollars of vital necessities of many kinds. So on the whole these visits made a most favorable impression on me.
But, as I now know, this impression was not the complete one. Elinor Lippor, who was a slave laborer in the Magadan area for many years, has subsequently described the great effort put forth by the Soviet authorities to pull the wool over our eyes and make Magadan into a Potemkin village for my inspection. Watch towers were torn down. Prisoners were herded away out of sight. On this basis, what we was prodded a false impression. I was amazed that the Russians could do so much in such short time--as was Wendell Willkie, who had visited the same region in 1942. But unfortunately neither Willkie nor I knew the full truth. As guests we were shown only one side of the coin.And he didn't get any help from his traveling companion, Lattimore, who spoke several Asiatic languages as well as Russian.
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