September 4, 1949 – Yugoslavia And Tito – Two Pilots Defect, One Has Second Thoughts – The Boy In The Well
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September 4, 1949 – the end of a busy week throughout the world. Starting with news from Belgrade of a split between Yugoslavia and The Soviet Union. Yugoslav leader Marshall Tito, a former supporter of Joseph Stalin, had second thoughts about the goings-on in Moscow and offered a stinging rebuke of policies that threatened peace-through-disruption in the region and stressed Yugoslavia’s independence. Moscow took to the airwaves to offer thinly-veiled threats and charges of Fascist Traitor to Tito. Rumors of a Soviet crackdown on Tito, and the situation brewing in Yugoslavia prompted many to fear an armed confrontation was in the offing.
Meanwhile, word of two Russian pilots defecting to the west came up in the news. The Pilots; Peter Pirakov and Anatole Barzov fled the Soviet Union and landed in the U.S. looking for asylum – that was a year earlier. A year later, Anatole Barzov had a change of heart and, after seven months, wanted to return to Russia. The State Department was happy to oblige and U.S. officials dropped Anatole Barzov off at an outpost in Austria where a Red Army car was waiting to bring him home. Back in the States, Pirakov denounced his erstwhile companion and offered a reminder that the USSR was not going to forget Barzov’s earlier and much vocal denunciation of Russia and the Communist government during a press conference just after their defection.
And the story of the 17 year-old boy trapped in a well he was digging at a farm in Elkhart, Indiana. The boy, Gene Saunders slipped and fell into the pit he was digging and was almost immediately covered in sand up to his neck and trapped for some six hours before he was rescued. With the newly perfected piece of technology known as the “Portable Field Tape Recorder”, the boy was interviewed as he gasped for air – and the scene made for riveting listening.
And that’s just a small sample of the week ending September 4, 1949, as reported by NBC Radio’s Voices And Events.