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Mr. STEVENS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I have prepared a statement on H. R. 6923, H. R. 8076, H, R. 9094, and H. R. 9234. I prepared that statement before I learned that the chairman had introduced H. R. 9390.
Mr. HINSHAW. That is merely an improved version of H. R. 9094. Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir, we understand that it is.
If the chairman please, I would insert my prepared statement in the record and speak briefly concerning the measure now before you.
Mr. HINSHAW. We will accept the statement in the record, without objection. There being no objection it will be placed in the record prior to the statement that you are about to make.
Mr. STEVENS. It will conserve your time, sir. (The statement referred to is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF CHARLES W. STEVENS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, NATIONAL REHABILI
TATION COMMISSION, THE AMERICAN LEGION Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the American Legion appre ciates this oportunity to speak on behalf of the enactment of legislation by this 83d Congress which would authorize the payment by the War Claims Commission of compensation to veterans of the United States Armed Forces, who were held as prisoners of war by the enemy in the Korean conflict.
Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, who were captured by the enemy during the Korean conflict between June 27, 1950, and July 26, 1953, suffered intolerable hardships and were subjected to utterly inhumane treatment to the detriment of life and health.
The barbarians, into whose hands fell the valiant military personnel of this country, were not signatory to the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, neither recognizing nor observing its terms, being so depraved that they unconscionably tortured and put to death their prisoners of war.
The American Legion firmly believes that repatriated prisoners of war and of those deceased, the surviving spouse, children, and parents, should be compensated in some measure as recognition of the suffering endured.
The St. Louis 1953 National Convention of the American Legion directed that support be given to legislation in the 83d Congress which would provide for compensation awards to former prisoners of war of the Korean conflict on a parity with the benefits accorded those held captive by the enemy during World War II, excluding from such benefit payment only those so-called progressives who voluntarily gave aid to, or collaborated with, the enemy, to recognize the heroism and fortitude of loyal and gallant Americans.
Analyzing the bills H. R. 6923, 8076, 9094, and 9234, it is observed that H. R. 6923 and 9234 are identical. Either would, if enacted, accomplish the purpose we seek, in that $2.50 daily compensation would be awarded for each day a member of an Armed Force of the United States was held captive by the enemy on or after June 27, 1950, and would, in the event the prisoner of war had died, provide for the payment of the benefit to survivors within a limited class. The award proposed is in an equal amount to that granted in World War II cases under similar circumstances.
H. R. 8076 would provide for an award of $3 for each day. The remaining provisions of the bill are similar to the other two just mentioned.
We believe that H. R. 9094, in section 2, would more nearly accomplish the exact purpose of our national convention mandate. There is proposed, in this bill, an award of $1 for each day a member of an Armed Force of the United States was held as a prisoner of war by a hostile force, for any period of time subsequent to June 25, 1950, during which that enemy, or its agents, failed to furnish him the quantity or quality of food prescribed for prisoners of war under the terms of the Geneva Convention.
This bill would also allow compensation at the rate of $1.50 per day for each day such a person was held prisoner of war and was subjected to labor, contrary to the terms of the Geneva Convention, or to inhumane treatment. These are the amounts awarded in World War II cases. The reasons for payment are the same.
H. R. 9094 would also deny either the $1 or $1.50 per diem payment to any such member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, at any time, vol
untarily and knowingly gave aid to, collaborated with, or in any manner served the hostile force.
In the event of the death of the person who served in the Armed Forces, this bill further provides that payment would be made to:
(1) Widow or dependent husband if there is no child or children of the deceased;
(2) Widow or dependent husband and child or children of deceased, onehalf to the widow dependent husband and the other half to the child or children of the deceased in equal shares;
(3) Child or children of the deceased (in equal shares) if there is no widow or dependent husband ; and
(4) Parents (in equal shares) if there is no widow, dependent husband, or children.
Provision was made for the compensation payment to survivors of World War II prisoners of war on that basis in the War Claims Act of 1948 (Public Law 896, 80th Cong., approved July 3, 1948), as amended by Public Law 866, 81st Congress, approved September 30, 1950.
Benefits would be paid upon certification by the War Claims Commission to the Secretary of the Treasury. The payment would be from appropriated funds. The measure would authorize appropriation of such amounts as may be necessary to cover the benefit payments and necessary administrative expense.
It would be required that claims for benefits be filed with the Commission within 6 months from date of enactment; also that adjudication of claims be completed at the earliest practicable date but not later than 1 year after expiration of the time for filing. Although the War Claims Commission is a going concern which has done an excellent job, the new legislation could require revision of some procedures. Claims forms would need to be printed. This would take some time.
We do believe that 1 year as a minimum should be established now as the period in which claims should be filed following enactment. We think the 6month period too brief to afford veterans or survivors a reasonable opportunity to claim the benefits.
More than 3 years and 8 months were given World War II ex-prisoners of war and survivors to file for the $1 compensation and more than 2 years and 3 months have been given them to file for the $1.50. In each case Congress found it necessary to allow extensions of the delimiting dates through amendatory legislation.
We sincerely urge early enactment of this beneficial legislation.
Mr. STEVENS. May I say that the American Legion believes that the bill which the chairman has introduced would more nearly fit the resolution which was adopted in our St. Louis, 1953, national convention, on the basis that the bills would provide for compensation award to former prisoners of war of the Korean conflict and is on a parity with the benefits accorded to those held captive by the enemy during World War II.
That is, there would be $1 compensation for each day a prisoner of war was given less than the quality or quanity of food prescribed by the Geneva convention of July 27, 1929, and $1.50 per day compensation would be given for each day that the prisoner was subject to forced labor without adequate compensation or was subjected to inhumane treatment in contravention of the terms of the Geneva Convention.
The bill H. R. 9390 would, like H. R. 9094, provide for the payment from appropriations; the payment, of similar benefits that World War II veterans received, was made from enemy assets, which were taken by the alien property custodian from the enemy nations, with which we were at war in World War II.
There would be no such moneys available on this occasion. We do think that it is quite proper that equal treatment should be given these
Korean prisoners of war and their survivors, but that the appropriation should bear the cost.
There is in our resolution which was adopted by our 1953 national convention, after introduction by Mr. Lewis S. Sioneker, director of rehabilitation of the California Department of the American Legion in our convention committee at St. Louis, a clause which would exclude from such benefit payments only those so-called progressives who voluntarily gave aid to or collaborated with the enemy.
Mr. Sloneker was thinking, and our convention committee was thinking-our entire convention was thinking, when the resolution was adopted, that there were only a couple of dozen or less men who voluntarily gave aid and comfort to the enemy. They stayed behind when the rest of our living ex-prisoners of war were repatriated.
The Chair has mentioned Colonel Schwable of the Marine Corps and the Air Force officers who have been subjected to inquiry and a court-martial in some instances since their repatriation.
I feel that I can safely say to the committee that the American Legion believes that only those who voluntarily gave aid to the enemy should be excluded from this compensation and I do not believe that the gentlemen whom I have mentioned did that.
I would ask, sir, of you and the members of the committee, note lines 12 and 13, page 5
Mr. HINSHAW. Of which bill?
Mr. STEVENS. H. R. 9390; the bill you have before you. The words “voluntarily and knowingly” are placed here for a very definite purpose. Some members of our Armed Forces in Korea voluntarily, but not knowingly, may have aided the enemy. Others knowingly, but certainly involuntarily aided them—these only after torture and socalled brain washing.
The American Legion believes that the benefit payment should be denied only to those who voluntarily and knowingly gave aid.
Incidentally, at this time, I would like to recommend to the Chairand I was happy to note that he remarked about this language—that in its consideration, on page 5, beginning on line 24, and ending on line 1 of page 6, these words be striken, prior to the date of enactment of this subsection,” and that the same words also be stricken from lines 23 and 24 on page 6. In that way the entitlement to the benefits would continue without further amendatory legislation as to those persons who still may be, as members of the Armed Forces, held by the enemy in Korea or elsewhere.
General Mark Clark, in Italy, about a week ago, in an address at an anniversary of the action in World War II there, remarked that he believed that there were about 4,000 American members of the Armed Forces still held by the enemy in Korea. He was Supreme Commander of United Nations Forces in Korea and should know.
We think that the entitlement should continue in the event this bill becomes law, and striking those words would accomplish this purpose. Certainly, those still held by the enemy should continue to earn the maximum daily compensation credit.
There is one further observation. We are very concerned that every opportunity be given the repatriated prisoners of war and survivors of those deceased, to file claims for this benefit.
The language on line 16, page 7, of H. R. 9390 shows that a 6 months' limitation would be set for the filing of claims and then the
claims are to be adjudicated as expeditiously as possible, but not later than 1 year after that filing delimiting date.
We believe that 6 months is entirely too brief a period. It will take some time to print application forms, after the bill becomes law. There may be some necessary revisions of procedure in the Commission for the adjudication of claims and publicity might not reach out to some of the places where the ex-prisoners of war or survivors live.
The benefit for World War II prisoners of war, the $1 benefit, originally authorized by the War Claims Act of 1948, is one in which, through subsequent amendatory legislation on different occasions, 3 years and 8 months were given in which to file claims. One year was given then for the filing of claims for the $1.50 daily compensation initially. Then you, Mr. Chairman, found it necessary to introduce a bill extending the time, which was H. R. 6896. This extended the filing date from April 9, 1953, to August 1, 1954. This bill became Public Law 359, 83d Congress, May 21, 1954.
Thus for the $1.50 benefit, the ex-prisoners of war and survivors actually were given 2 years and 3 months in which to file claims.
We think at least 1 year should be given to file claims for this proposed benefit and even believe that that may be somewhat less than would be necessary.
Mr. HINSHAW. I think, myself, that 6 months is too short. It ought to be, in view of the continuing nature of the Commission and its successor, it ought to be within 1 year from the date of the enactment of this subsection or the date of the release and return to the United States, whichever is longer.
Mr. Olson. That would take care of those now presumably bottled up.
Mr. HINSHAW. Presumably bottled up is right. We have no idea, as I understand it, as to whether or not they are incarcerated, whether they are in forced labor, or whether they have gone over completely to the other side, or whether they are dead. Now, we do not know.
Mr. STEVENS. We do know, sir, that 3,500 have not gone over to the other side. I would doubt that there is another dozen beyond the twenty-odd that have been reported, that would have gone over to the other side.
Mr. HINSHAW. I doubt that.
Mr. STEVENS. We do hope that this Congress will find it possible to enact this necessary and beneficial legislation, because not only the Korean prisoners of war and survivors are asking for it, but we receive letters from ex-POW's of World War II, and they ask what is being done for the Korean POW's.
Mr. Hinshaw. Thank you very much. Are there any questions? We thank you for your presentation.
Mr. Olson. We thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen. We appreciate the courtesy and the opportunity of a hearing. Mr. STEVENS. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF CHESTER C. SHORE, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. HINSHAW. The next witness will be Mr. Chester C. Shore, Washington, D.C.
Mr. SHORE. Mr. Chairman and members of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, I have a written statement of my
testimony which I specifically request be submitted for the record and I would like to make a brief summary of the testimony presented therewith.
Mr. HINSHAW. If you can make it brief and not longer than the statement itself, why, we will appreciate it.
Mr. SHORE. Yes, sir. The testimony is addressed to H. R. 9094, H. R. 9234, H.R. 8076, and H. R. 6923.
I have not had an opportunity to examine H. R. 9390, but since, as you stated, sir, it is substantially the same as 9094, I believe what I have to say will pertain to it as well.
I represent Mrs. William D. Denson and Mr. Edwin Sierstorpff, beneficiaries under a will of a very large estate which is now in Brooklyn, N. Y.
This property was left them by their grandfather, Mr. Edward F. Knowlton.
The property was seized by the American Government during the war at a time when Mrs. Denson and Mr. Sierstorpff were minors. The property at all times was in the United States and never was or could be used for enemy war purposes.
Mrs. Denson is an American citizen and has 2 children who are American citizens and Mr. Sierstorpff will be an American citizen within 1 month.
They naturally have a vital interest in any legislation which would affect the property that had been seized by our Government.
Mr. HINSHAW. Now, are you sure that these bills are the ones that you want to talk to?
Mr. SHORE. Yes, sir. Mr. HINSHAW. Because this bill has nothing to do with the seizing of property or seized property. It only has to do with appropriations from the United States Treasury; it has nothing whatsoever to do with any return of funds vested by the Alien Property Custodian.
Mr. SHORE. Well, sir, as I read 9094, it provides for an appropriation from the Treasury, but I believe H. R. 6923, H, R. 8076, and H. R. 9234 provide for use of property that had been seized for war claims.
Mr. HINSHAW. I think you can assume that the benefits under those bills will be included in the benefits under H. R. 9390 and that the funds will be from appropriated funds and not vested funds.
Mr. SHORE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HINSHAW. Therefore, any discussion of the question that you have in mind will be unnecessary at this time, and you may appear later on other bills which we will consider.
Mr. SHORE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HINSHAW. I think we better not place the statement in the record as it will not be applicable to this question.
Mr. SHORE. I thank you, sir, for the opportunity of appearing. .
STATEMENT OF CHARLES E. FOSTER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR,
DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. HINSHAW. The next witness will be Mr. Charles E. Foster, assistant director, Disabled American Veterans, 1701 18th Street NW. Washington, D. C. Is Mr. Foster present?
Mr. FOSTER. Yes, Mr. Chairman.