Sunday, 23 July 1989

Captive Nations Resolution, July 23 1959

This Post contains:

1. Proclamation by Eisenhower, July 21
2. News Conference with Eisenhower, July 22
3. Resolution of the Congress, July 23
4. Questions

July 21 Eisenhower issued Proclamation 3303 designating a weeklong "Captive Nations Week" after a joint congress passed it.  Eisenhower later recalled that he would have preferred to postpone the resolution several days. 

This act of Congress in 1959 saw President Eisenhower sign into law Captive Nations Week, an annual public awareness campaign carried on since 1953.  The origins of Captive Nations were in a group formed in 1953-54, the Assembly of Captive European Nations, made up of citizens/former citizens of 9 Eastern European nations dominated by the USSR after WWII (leaders and cultural figures from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania). They produced written material (reports, resolutions, info-pamphlets, books, correspondence [they replied to every letter received], met with heads of state, participated in conferences, did public speaking). In 1959 they promoted Captive Nations Week, which was adopted by many in US government and found its way to the Congress and President.

Kennan opposed the campaign, which effectively makes US policy to overthrow the governments in these countries, and tried to dissuade Kennedy from renewing it.  Dictator Khrushchev opposed it and expressed doubts whether Vice-President Nixon should still visit the USSR (as part of a diplomatic visit by high-level figures from both countries) and Pravda denounced it.  Communists worldwide saw it as hurting US-Soviet relations.  

1. Proclamation by Eisenhower


WHEREAS many nations throughout the world have been made captive by the imperialistic and aggressive policies of Soviet communism; and

WHEREAS the peoples of the Soviet-dominated nations have been deprived of their national independence and their individual liberties; and 

WHEREAS the citizens of the United States are linked by bonds of family and principle to those who love freedom and justice on every continent; and 

WHEREAS it is appropriate and proper to manifest to the peoples of the captive nations the support of the Government and the people of the United States of America for their just aspirations for freedom and national independence; and 

WHEREAS by a joint resolution approved July 17, 1959, the Ante,p.2i2. Congress has authorized and requested the President of the United States of America to issue a proclamation designating the third week in July 1959 as "Captive Nations Week," and to issue a similar proclamation each year until such time as freedom and independence shall have been achieved for all the captive nations of the world: 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the week beginning July 19, 1959, as Captive Nations Week.

I invite the people of the United States of America to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and I urge them to study the plight of the Soviet-dominated nations and to recommit themselves to the support of the just aspirations of the peoples of those captive nations. 

I N WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed. 

D O N E at the City of Washington this seventeenth day of July in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-nine, [SEAL] and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-fourth. 


By the President: 
Acting Secretary of State.


A PROCLAMATION WHEREAS experience has shown that effective community fireprevention programs can save thousands of lives each year and millions of dollars in property values; and WHEREAS increased fire losses during the past year emphasize the need for increased care, responsibility, and community action on the part of all of the American people:

2. News Conference with Eisenhower, July 22

This is the beginning of this interview.  After these exchanges, questions not related to the Soviet Union were asked.

THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down.

Good morning. Ready for the questions.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: In Warsaw yesterday Premier Khrushchev professed to be puzzled about why Vice President Nixon is going to Russia and he apparently linked this puzzlement with criticism of your proclamation on the captive nations. Do you see this attitude as a sort of strike against the Nixon visit even before it starts?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, no. I wouldn't think of it in that way. The Nixon visit was of course proposed quite awhile back, and it's really an exchange of visits between Mr. Kozlov and Mr. Nixon. It's a good will gesture and we wanted to have a prominent American to officiate at the opening of our exhibit.

Now, as far as the resolution about the captive nations, this was a resolution by the Congress, asked me to issue a proclamation, which I did; and asked the United States to conduct ceremonies in memory of the plight of such peoples. 

The Joint Resolution (S.J. Res. 111), designating the third week of July as "Captive Nations Week," is Public Law 86-90 (73 Stat. 212). On July 17 the President issued Proclamation 3303 "Captive Nations Week, 1959" (24 F.R. 5773), urging the people of the United States "to study the plight of the Soviet-dominated nations and to recommit themselves to the support of the just aspirations of the peoples of those captive nations."

But I don't think there is any specific relationship between the two things.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: In the same connection, sir, what do you think, quite aside from the Nixon visit, of the proposition of the Russians through Pravda, in a three-column article this morning, and through statements by Khrushchev, literally criticizing the proclamation by you of a week of prayer for the captive people?

What do you think of their basic criticism of you for proclaiming a week of prayer?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course they don't admit there are any captive nations. They have their own propaganda. They present a picture to their own peoples, including the world, so far as they can, that we know is distorted and is untrue.

This, to our way of thinking, is quite important not only because it is a matter of simple justice and human concern for all these people, but when you come down to it this country is made up of a great many of those people. We have relatives and people of the ethnic derivation of all those captive nations, and it becomes sort of a personal thing with us and would be almost unusual for us to be silent all the time and just acquiesce, presumably in their right to express themselves in the form of their government.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, NBC News: Do you see any danger that continued stalemate at Geneva might bring about an erosion in the Western position, in the effort to get something settled?

THE PRESIDENT. Once in a while you see such hints, because there is implied that there is a weakening of the strength of will of our delegation.

Well, knowing Mr. Herter and some of the others, I'm quite certain, on his part, at least, that this is not taking place, and I'm confident with respect to the others and the allies. So that while these things are very wearing, and sometimes physically wearing as well as mentally, intellectually, I think there need be no fear that they are standing firmly on principle.

But I do insist always, we are ready, they are ready, to undertake any negotiation on any suggestion or any offer that, recognizing our basic rights as the starting point, still offers some promise to easing what we call world tensions....

3. Captive Nations resolution of the U.S. Congress(PUBLIC LAW 86-90)


Whereas the greatness of the United States is in large part attributable to its having been able, through the democratic process, to achieve a harmonious national unit of its people, even though they stem from the most diverse of racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds; and

American diversity in 1959.

Whereas this harmonious unification of the diverse elements of our free society has led the people of the United States to possess a warm understanding and sympathy for the aspirations of peoples everywhere and to recognize the natural interdependency of the peoples and nations of the world; and

Whereas the enslavement of a substantial part of the world's population by Communist imperialism makes a mockery of the idea of peaceful coexistence between nations and constitutes a detriment to the natural bonds of understanding between the people of the United States and other peoples; and

Whereas since 1918 the imperialistic and aggressive policies of Russian communism have resulted in the creation of a vast empire which poses a die threat to the security of the United States and of all the free people of the world; and

Note the USSR empire to that point.  Since 1918?  Why does it treaten the US and free peoples?  How does it do so?  With weapons or with idealistic promises or with shady tactics?

Whereas the imperialistic policies of Communist Russia have led, through direct and indirect aggression, to the subjugation of the national independence of Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Estonia, White Ruthenia, Rumania, East Germany, Bulgaria, mainland China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, North Korea, Albania, Idel-Ural, Tibet, Cossackia, Turkestan, North Viet-Nam, and others; and

Detail each.  

Whereas these submerged nations look to the United States, as the citadel of human freedom, for leadership in bringing about their liberation and independence and in restoring to them the enjoyment of their Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, or other religious freedoms, and of their individual liberties; and

Examples of this actually happening; people looking to the US and the US providing the enjoyment of these listed activities.

Whereas it is vital to the national security of the United States that the desire for liberty and independence on the part of the peoples of these conquered nations should be steadfastly kept alive; and

Whereas the desire for liberty and independence by the overwhelming majority of the people of these submerged nations constitutes a powerful deterrent to war and one of the best hopes for a just and lasting peace; and

How the Soviets might use them to war rather than their own wishes for peace.

Whereas it is fitting that we clearly manifest to such peoples through an appropriate and official means the historic fact that the people of the United States share with them their aspirations for the recovery of their freedom and independence:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

The President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation designating the third week in July 1959 as "Captive Nations Week" and inviting the people of the United States to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities. The President is further authorized and requested to issue a similar proclamation each year until such time as freedom and independence shall have been achieved for all the captive nations of the world.

4. Questions

Does anyone know what happened during Captive Nations Week in 1959 or 1960?