‘A Lump Of Butter At The Head Of The Stairs’ – August 3, 1948

Stalin - the most powerful man in Russia had been suspiciously absent lately.

Stalin – the most powerful man in Russia had been suspiciously absent lately.

News of the World – NBC Radio – August 3, 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

News for this August 3rd in 1948 had much to do with the Cold War, and with the suspiciously absent Joseph Stalin.

With the Cold War ratcheting up and negotiations towards Peace held in utmost secrecy, the world was an uneasy place. News that an expanded airfield was being readied in Germany for the continuation of Berlin airlift had many concerned how this move would be viewed in Moscow. In Belgrade, at the Danube Conference, Russia’s Andrei Vishinsky made no bones about Moscow’s desire to dictate economic peace in the Balkans.

But all the conferences and discussions also pointed to the possibility that Joseph Stalin was no longer the head of Soviet Russia. As one European diplomat put it; “Joseph Stalin may only be a lump of butter at the head of the stairs” – and the meeting Stalin held with three Western envoys the previous night in Moscow would not be decisive in Western relations with Russia. Speculation was running rife in diplomatic circles that Stalin was in fact a prisoner of the Politburo and that anything Stalin may have said the previous night to the envoys may later be reversed. It could also have explained the veil of absolute secrecy regarding the ongoing talks between the four powers.

And the Cold War wasn’t confined to conferences and speculation. In Washington, accused Communist sympathizer Whittaker Chambers was reported to have told the Senate Subcommittee that he had broken with the Communist Party in order to become a Senior Editor at Time Magazine. Hd agreed there was a Red Underground in Washington, headed by former Government officials. He named Alger Hiss of the State Department and Nathan Witt of the National Labor Relations Board, among others. Another witness, former government economist William W. Remington admitted he had participated in traffic with ex-Communist Elizabeth Bentley, albeit unwittingly. He added he gave her no secrets, even though he periodically met her on street corners.

And that was just a little of what went on, in the middle of a Cold War Summer – August 3, 1948 as reported on NBC Radio’s News Of The World.

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