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Mr. Foster. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Charles E. Foster, assistant legislative representative, Disabled American Veterans.
The DAV is one of the four congressional chartered veterans organizations and we appreciate the opportunity of appearing before you this morning, adding our voice to the support of H. R. 9390, and allied bills.
These bills, as we understand them, would extend the Korean prisoners of war the benefits under the War Claims Act which were granted by a grateful Congress to prisoners of war of Warld War II.
I want to certainly endorse the statements of my predecessors before you this morning in support of these bills, and I would like to particularly emphasize the limitation, the 6 months limitation, rather for filing claims with the Commission by Korean POW’s, should this bill be enacted.
We have found from experience that a 6-month period is a relatively short time, in view of the fact that the Commission would have to draft and promulgate and publish regulations; would have to prepare the forms; get them in the hands of the prospective claimants, and for the claimant to get them back within 6 months, we feel, would be too short a period, and we certainly think that a 12-month period from date of enactment or, 1 year's time after return to the United States would be far more just to these prisoners of war.
This concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman.
We certainly feel that the Korean POW's, and everyone knows, were subject to very cruel and inhumane, and unusual treatment in many, many instances, and in all justice and fair play and equity they should be extended the same benefits as World War II POW's. We certainly hope that the committee will give this bill early and favorable consideration.
Mr. Hinshaw. Thank you, Mr. Foster. Are there any questions by the committee? If not, we appreciate very much your testimony. Mr. FOSTER. Thank you, sir.
STATEMENT OF JOHN R. HOLDEN, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE DIREC
TOR, AMERICAN VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. HINSHAW. The next witness will be Mr. John R. Holden, national legislative director, American Veterans of World War II of Washington, D. C.
Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is John R. Holden. I am the national legislative director of American Veterans, a congressional chartered organization composed exclusively of World War II and Korean veterans. We appreciate the opportunity to appear today and express our views on the measure pending before this committee.
My statement, Mr. Chairman, was prepared prior to the time we had had access to H. R. 9390 and it is directed primarily to H. R. 9094. From a study of 9390 now, I feel that we can agree that it substantially is the same as H. R. 9094 and endorse H. R. 9390. Also with one or two exceptions we agree with the chairman that the provision, that entitlement to this benefit for each day prior to the date of enactment, should be stricken or amended in order that we may take care of the 3,500 still unaccounted for.
We also feel, Mr. Chairman, that the 6 months' period for filing calims should be increased to 1 year in order to put less of a burden. on the prisoners of war in filing.
AMVETS interest in this legislation stems from a resolution adopted at our 1953 national convention urging that Congress authorize the same benefits for Korean prisoners of war as that paid to World War II POW's. This resolution was reaffirmed in Washington, D. C., last April by the national executive committee of AMVETS with the added request that Congress proceed to the immediate consideration of this subject. And, we are grateful, Mr. Chairman, for your committee's consideration on this date.
Section 2 of the bill, H. R. 9094, and H. R. 9390, would amend the War Claims Act of 1948 to permit the payments of specified rates of compensation to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who were held prisoners of war during any period subsequent to June 25, 1950, and suffered indignities and ill treatment.
More specifically, and unlike other proposals before you today, section 2 of this measure sets forth two sets of eligibility requirements for 2 different rates of compensation. In the first instance, the sum of $1 is paid for each day a prisoner of war fails to receive the quantity or quality of food prescribed under the terms of the Geneva Convention.
In addition, a rate of $1.50 per day is authorized, for each day the enemy failed to comply with the requirements of the Geneva Convention regarding labor of prisoners of war or for each day the POW was subjected to inhumane treatment as defined in the terms of the Geneva Convention.
We endorse this method of settling claims, not only because it follows the tried and tested manner of adjudicating the claims of World War II POW's, but because it is entirely possible that a former POW could qualify for one rate without necessarily being entitled to the other.
In enacting the War Claims Act of 1948, Congress has recognized the principle that prisoners of war who suffered ill treatment at the hands of an enemy are entitled to a form of remuneration. The fact that the Chinese Communists and North Koreans violated every concept of justice and dignity in their treatment of captives cannot be disputed.
The failure of the enemy governments to observe the Geneva Convention requirements relative to humane treatment of prisoners is common knowledge. Recent congressional hearings and stories in the press have confirmed the fact that the treatment accorded Korean POW's was as bad or worse than World War II.
It is not necessary to go into a detailed accounting of this treatment. The deliberate deprivation of human necessities of life, the infamous brainwashings, have all been established beyond any doubt by the testimony of many who suffered at the hands of the Communists. The continuous maltreatment in many instances resulted in permanent physical and mental damage.
We recognize the fact that World War II benefit was paid from funds consisting of certain liquidated enemy assets, while the legislation under consideration today must be financed by direct appropriation. We submit, however, that the World War II benefit was paid to approximately 136,000 American prisoners and almost as many Philippine prisoners of war.
It is estimated that 8,500 Korean veterans will qualify under this measure at a cost to the United States of $1112 million to $12 million. This figure is small, indeed when we consider that to some degree it discharges the Nation's moral obligation and compensates these valiant men for their suffering.
In the interests of equity and in recognition of privation and suffering far beyond that which citizen or soldier normally endures, AMVETS urge that section 2 of H. R. 9094 be favorably reported by this committee.
Mr. HINSHAW. We thank you. Are there any questions by the members of the committee? If not, thank you very much for your presentation.
Mr. HOLDEN. Thank you very much for the opportunity of being heard, sir.
Mr. HINSHAW. Are there any other persons to be heard? If not, the hearings will be recessed pending the call to the Defense Establishment, according to the earlier statement of the Chair, to come and discuss with us the provisions of the law that relate to persons who at any time voluntarily and knowingly gave aid to, collaborated with, or in any manner served any such hostile force.
Now, there are representatives of the legislative departments of the armed services here in the observation of the Chair and I would suggest that those representatives apprise their specific services of this idea and that they notify the chairman, or the clerk of the committee, as to the earliest date in which they will be prepared to testify at some length and conclusively in these matters.
Before adjourning, I have a statement here from Mr. Fino, of New York, which will go into the record at this point. (The matter referred to is as follows:)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., June 4, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington 25, D. C.
(Attention : Mr. Layton, clerk.) DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your notice that a public hearing will be held on H. R. 8076, to extend War Claims benefits to Korean POW's, on Monday, June 7, 1954, at 10 o'clock.
I had intended to appear to speak in support of my bill, but an unexpected development has forced me to remain in New York City on Monday. May I therefore present to you herewith, for the consideration of the committee, the remarks I had intended to deliver in person. Thanking you for your kind cooperation, and with best wishes, I am Sincerely yours,
PAUL A. FINO, Member of Congre88.
REMARKS OF REPRESENTATIVE PAUL A. FINO IN SUPPORT OF H. R. 8076
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak in support of my bill, H. R. 8076, which proposes to amend the War Claims Act of 1948 so as to provide for the payment of War Claims benefits to United States prisoners of war in Korea.
Under present law, there is no provision for compensation to a returned United States prisoner with claims of brutal treatment during his captivity in Korea. After World War II, prisoners of war applied to the War Claims Commission, and payment was made to them for lack of food, and/or brutal treatment. But to date, as you know, the Congress has not extended this law to cover our Korean veterans who were POW's. The purpose of my bill is to make available to POW's certain benefits for cruel treatment while in the hands of hostile forces. The measure would correct an inequity and grant relief to those members of our Armed Forces who participated in the Korean conflict and fell into the hands of the enemy.
My bill provides payment of $3 per day for each day the Korean prisoner of war was held in POW status, and this amount covers violations of the Geneva Convention relating to labor or prisoners of war; inhumane treatment by the hostile force or foreign country concerned ; and failure to furnish the quantity and quality of food to which the POW was entitled under the Geneva Convention. My proposal differs somewhat from the method by which POW's of World War II could claim $1 per day for lack of food and/or $1.50 for inhumane treatment. My bill would make it unnecessary for a POW to file more than one application, and each POW would receive the same compensation-$3 per day.
I believe we are agreed that our fighting men in Korea suffered equally as much as did our veterans of World War II while in prison camps. Their anguish was the same. The suffering of our Korean veterans might have been even more intense, in view of the enemy's savage disregard for the dignity of man, and his insidious method of torture by “brainwashing,” in addition to more obvious methods of inhumane treatment.
H. R. 8076 provides that there is authorized to be appropriated to the war claims fund such sums as may be necessary to carry out this act. After World War II, funds that went to POW’s with claims of brutal treatment during captivity were paid out of impounded German and Japanese assets in this country. There are no such Red Chinese or North Korean assets, so it will, of course, be necessary to provide funds with which to administer this program. In the event that the Budget Bureau would object to the authorization for funds as written in H. R. 8076, may I suggest to the committee that the section be rewritten to provide that claims should be paid out of the Treasury.
I urge the members of this committee to make available to Korean prisoners of war the benefits of the War Claims Act.
Thank you very much.
(Thereupon, at 11:30 a. m., the committee adjourned to meet at the call of the Chair.)
WAR CLAIMS ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1954
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 1954
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to notice, in the Caucus room, Old House Office Building, Hon. Carl Hinshaw (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding:
Mr. HINSHAW. The committee will come to order.
This hearing is conducted to consider H. R. 3298 and H. R. 2546, bills to amend the War Claims Act and particularly section 5 thereof.
We have departmental reports on both bills which will be inserted in the record at this point.
(The bills under consideration, H. R. 2546 and H. R. 3298, and reports referred to, are as follow :)
[H. R. 2546, 83d Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To amend the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, to make husbands eligible for
survivor benefits under sections 5 and 6, regardless of status of dependency
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That subsection (d) of section 5 and subsection (c) of section 6 of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, are amended by striking out the word “dependent” wherever it appears in said subsections.
[H. R. 3298, 83d Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To amend section 5 of the War Claims Act of 1948 so that internees will not be
denied detention and disability benefits thereunder because of being within the purview of the Missing Persons Act of March 7, 1942
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 5 (a) of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, is hereby amended by striking out the following: "a person within the purview of the Missing Persons Act of March 7, 1942 (56 Stat. 143), as amended; or (D)”.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, November 18, 1953.
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in response to your request for the views of the Department of Justice relative to the bill (H. R. 2546) to amend the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, to make husbands eligible for survivor benefits under sections 5 and 6, regardless of status of dependency.