20 AUGUST 1948, Page 16


SIR,—On careful analysis the statements in Canon Howard's letter in your issue of July 30th boil down to an unnamed acquaintance of his asserting that 10,000 Greek children live now in" appalling" conditions in the Russian satellite States." As he has obviously been nowhere near them, this can be dismissed as a reiteration of items from the Athens Press, whose imagination has run riot. The reports on the excellent organisation of the Greek children's hostels in the Eastern democracies sent by Kenneth Mathews to the B.B.C. and by Homer Bigart to The New York Herald Tribune afford us no reason to doubt their veracity. As to the question whether these children were "abducted," it should be noticed that the U.N.O. Commission's report, so often referred to in this connection, cites no evidence of a single parent to substantiate such an allegation. It only contains evlience of evacuation of certain villages, adults and children alike, and not to foreign territory ; such evacuations have been carried out en Masse by the Government army. The statement

by Dr. Stewart of the Save the Children Fund (in THE WORLD'S CHIL- DREN) that rumours of forcible abduction are "greatly exaggerated" is also significant in view of the fact that her own organisation had at first protested against the evacuation. That the children whom your correspon- dent's friend saw looked ill-fed and numbed with terror I can believe ; they are the victims of forcible evacuation by the Greek Government ; they have seen the gendarmes kicking and striking their frantic mothers who tried to wrench them from their hands ; they are clustering in door- ways and pavements begging their bread, if we are to believe the royalist Salonica paper Greek North of June 6, 1948

As to the ulterior motive of the Eastern countries in giving the generous hospitality they do to the innocent victims of civil war, namely, Communist indoctrination, surely Canon Howard knows that these coun- tries need not have gone to all that trouble and expense ; for a short stay in Athens or any other city of Government-controlled Greece, with the yawning gulf between the corrupted luxury of the rich and the near-starva- tion of the working masses, added to the brutal partiality of the authorities, would be sufficient to turn anyone of decent instincts into a Communist, if Communism is the only alternative to such conditions ; and it does seem as if Anglo-American intervention in Greece was determined to preclude any other alternative.

Finally, I should not wish your readers to believe, Sir, that the Greeks who approve of this evacuation do not deplore the necessity of it ; but it would be difficult for them to -believe in the genuine concern of those who protest against it, or in the sob-stuff dished out in Parliament, con- sidering that the Foreign Office has refused to allow a few of these chil- dren to be brought over here, though scores of invitations are pouring weekly into the offices of the League for Democracy in Greece, on the part of decent British working-folk, who would gladly have such children share their homes.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient