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Information bulletin
(September 1950)

von Eckardt, Wolf
Congress for cultural freedom,   pp. 19-23 PDF (3.4 MB)

Page 19

The first international Congress for Cultural Freedom symbolically was held
in Berlin
June 26 to 30. Attended by 150 delegates from countries all over the world,
large audiences
Eugen Kogon, noted editor-author and president in Germany of "Europa
Union,'' is speaker.
THE FIVE-DAY Congress for Cultural Freedom, which
brought a distinguished array of prominent artists,
writers and scientists from many lands to Berlin this past
summer, turned out to be a far more dynamic event than
the expected demonstration in behalf of cultural liberty.
Both timing and locale - the Congress which met 105
miles behind-the-Iron-Curtain coincided with the first
disturbing news from Korea - set the spirit and gave
this assembly of some 150 of the world's leading minds
a peculiar sense of urgency and determination.
The original broad general program of the Congress
rapidly swerved from its non-political theme of upholding
democratic cultural freedom to a resounding farewell to
the concept of neutrality toward the totalitarian menace.
The idea for the Congress first originated in the mind
of David Rousset, celebrated French socialist, who, while
attending the Cultural Congress of the European Union
held in Lausanne last year, said: "We should hold an
international cultural congress of writers, artisits, and
thinkers, who are fully aware of their responsibilities to
the world, and this congress should be
held in Berlin."
Rousset's words provided the spark
which kindled the plans for the Berlin
Congress. The idea caught the imagina-
tion of such men as Germany's Carlo
Schmid and Eugen Kogon; America's
James Burnham; and leaders in world
thought from many countries. A Secre-
tariat was formed with American maaa-
Mr. von Ecb
article, is de
Editorial Proje
mation Service
He covered tl
respondent fo
Service, the o0
torial Projecti(
not a particip
and lasted five days, from
heard outdoor sessions. Dr.
(Phoios by Jacoby, PRD HICOG)
zine editor Melvin J. Lasky as secretary-general. Invitations
were issued to prominent intellectuals of various shades
of political thought throughout the Western world for the
fundamental Congress-idea was that it was to be a
representative gathering, not of the right, left or center,
but of those who explored objective truth.
ONGRESS ORGANIZERS were faced with a variety
' of difficulties. Invitations had to be sent to a truly
representative body of men, and many guests had to be
convinced as to the free and objective nature of the forum
which was to be established. On one hand, those of the
political right wanted proof that this was not to be a
Communist-inspired slogan-throwing contest. On the other
hand, those of the left wanted to be assured that this was
not to be a super-reactionary propaganda stunt. All
insisted on maintaining the right of their own political
convictions while engaging in free and unfettered dis-
cussions of the problems which were to be brought up at
the Congress. As
:ardt, writer of this
puty chief of the
ction Branch, Infor-
es Division, HICOG.
ie congress as cor-
r the US Feature
peration of the Edi-
)n Branch. He was
ant in the congress
delegates arrived at Tempelhof Airport
in Berlin on what has been called "the
cultural airlift," the necessity for a
clear and unequivocal stand was by
no means apparent to all. Not a few
of the Europeans could be heard around
pre-Congress dinner tables expressing
anxiety lest the meeting impel them to
adopt a forward position too far re-
moved from sophisticated, contempla-
tive detachment.

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