1953 April 5

Joe McCarthy Aides Tour Europe, Purge Overseas U.S. Libraries


Senator Joe McCarthy’s chief aides, Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, arrived in Germany on this day, with plans to remove allegedly “pro-Communist” materials from U.S. information libraries in Europe. Schine claimed there was “too much pro-Communist periodicals and books” and too little anti-Communist materials in the libraries. Their tour turned into a circus that embarrassed the U.S. and alienated Western Europeans. The works of a number of noted American authors were removed from the libraries in the process. Senator McCarthy later claimed there were “30,000 Communist books” in the libraries. A survey by The New York Times found that several hundred books by more than 40 authors were eventually removed.

In an apparent reference to the outrageous Cohn-Schine tour, President Dwight Eisenhower, in a graduation address at Dartmouth College on June  14, 1953, advised the graduates “don’t join the book-burners.” It was a rare instance of Eisenhower criticizing Senator McCarthy, but he did not follow up on his remarks and never once mentioned McCarthy by name.

Learn more about Senator McCarthy: David Oshinsky, A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy (1983)

Read the current Library Bill of Rightshttp://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/

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