Berlin Congress for Freedom:
A New Resistance in the Making
In the last week of June the Congress for Cultural Freedom convened among the ruins of what had been the capital of the Third Reich. Titania Palace, where the solemn opening meeting was held in the presence of over two thousand invited guests (many had come at great hardship and personal risk from the Eastern zone to hear the message of hope), had once witnessed the oratorical triumphs of Goebbels. The Congress established its office headquarters at the Hotel am Steinplatz, whose roomy cellars had been the scene of much killing and personal violence during the days of the Russian conquest. Perhaps the Congress participants and visitors, by their patronage, helped speed up the hotel’s rebuilding and refurbishing, which had of late been proceeding but slowly.
It was the second world congress of intellectuals that I had witnessed, since the war, in the fantastic surroundings of a great and devastated German city. The first was Communist-sponsored and held in the Polonized city of Breslau, now Wroclaw, in November 1948. The Berlin Congress for Cultural Freedom has been labeled an “anti-Wroclaw,” a Western countermove against the repeated attempt to claim for Russia a monopoly of peace, an attempt which was somewhat more successful at Wroclaw than in the later similar tries in Paris, in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, and in Stockholm.
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