FREEDOM OR OPPRESSION ?
SIR,—Mr. J. F. Goodridge, in your issue of December 13th, speaks of a widespread desire to know whether in countries under Soviet influence a policy of oppression and in some cases " liquidation " or mass murder is being carried out, and asks why, if this is the case, the facts are not published in full by our Government—reminding us that the concealment of truth is even mere insidious than the invention of lies. It is evident, I think, that admission of such facts by our Government, so long as hostilities lasted, might have endangered the Allied unity essential ro victory. This, no doubt, was the reason why British ex-prisoners of war, who had been in Poland and other countries " liberated" by Russia, received strict orders on returning home to say nothing publicly of what they had seen Had it been otherwise the country would have heard only too many eye-witness accounts of destruction, rape and murder. Two ex-prisoners from a Dominion, alone among several I met, had received no such instructions, and were free to tell publicly of these things, also of mass deportations to Russia of men of the Polish Underground Army, oldest and most effective of all the resistance movements to German occupation. It is only fair,- however, to remember that Mr. Churchill, in his first broadcast after V.E. Day, admitted our failure to restore freedom in countries that had fought for it, and much could be read between those lines. Here and there the lines have been filled in since then, but news of this kind too often has been crowded out by matters of less importance.
And from a recent Ministerial statement it appears that in future it will be more difficult than hitherto to get reliable news from Poland, for example. Mr. McNeil stated on December 4th, in reply to a question, that there are now no British staff correspondents in that country, the correspondent of two leading newspapers in fact being a Polish subject. This absence of British correspondents no doubt explains why, so far as I know, the arrest of no fewer than 4,500 of the members of Mr. Mikolajczyk's Peasant Party (of whom fifty were prospective parlia- mentary candidates), more than a month ago, has not been reported. Moreover, it is known that three Polish interpreters of newspaper corre- spondents have recently been arrested. May not the fear of getting others into trouble still further curtail the reports of correspondents? But what of the B.B.C.? Could it not give us more facts than can throw light on the all-important question of Russia's attitude to peace rather than so many expressions of opinion on that country by those who never mention these disquieting matters? And as the voice of the B.B.C. travels far and travels quickly, might not more realistic utterances on its part help to bring home to the rulers of Russia that such oppression in the countries she dominates cannot but increase anxiety as to her aims?—Yours faith-
fully, KATHERINE ATHOLL. British League for European Freedom, 66, Elizabeth Street, S.W.z