Letter from Michael Heidelberger to C. C. Price, University of Notre Dame
In this letter Heidelberger expressed his belief that the quest for international cooperation in the wake of World War II
transcended differences between political parties, and described his efforts to commit the United States Association for the
United Nations to supporting plans (which ultimately failed) for a Conference for World Peace.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (212,631 Bytes)
1949-02-23 (February 23, 1949)
Price, C. C.
University of Notre Dame
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Thank you for the copy of your letter to my friend Linus Pauling. Since all of us are working for peace in ways which overlap
widely, I hope you will not mind my speaking out.
I, too, am a sponsor of the proposed conference, and I am proud to associate myself with many of the names on the list, including
Linus'. Perhaps my principal difference from your point of view is that when this conference was proposed last August
(before the current Russian "peace offensive") and a list of names of proposed sponsors was submitted, I did not shy
away because I recognized on it some rather dubious ones. I have enough confidence in my ideals, my integrity, and my love
for my country to feel that I can lose nothing by fighting for those ideals, even side-by-side with communists when they are
out for something of which I approve. Another sponsor who feels the same way is O. John Rogge, and if he had not had the courage
to go to the communistic Congress of Intellectuals in Warsaw, there would have been no one there to deliver the ringing defense
of Western culture that he put on record.
A major mistake our State Department, for example, has made is its patent lack of confidence in the American people. One example
was its cancellation of a shipload of delegates to the obviously communist-dominated International Youth Conference at Prague
in 1947. A thousand young American representatives of democracy, with their healthy simplicity, freedom of thought, baseball,
basketball, and songs (all of which the Czechs adore) might well have stemmed the tide of the tragic events that followed
shortly after. But the State Department did not trust our young people and the opportunity was lost. Even the British Labor
government sent as its representatives 200 young Conservatives (sic!). I talked to one of them and she had surrendered nothing
of her political creed, had gained in breadth of view, and came away with a promise of a weekly letter from a young Czech
By the same token I fear you do not trust Linus and me. I am as firm a believer in World Government as you are; only I believe
that were we to scrap the UN, we would get even less government than we already have. I am actively working to try to help
the UN to evolve into a world government, and with that objective partly in mind I have twice been a representative from the
American Association for the United Nations to the World Federation of UNAs. What is more, I have seen resolutions which I
worked for and helped frame passed at the WFUNA session and later adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the UN. It
is therefore possible for you and me, as individuals, to influence the direction in which the UN moves.
At the last session of WFUNA, among the attending associations were those of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and
Romania. All represented the people of their countries in their aspirations for the UN, just as did we of the Western associations.
Some of these Central Europeans were antagonistic, quarrelsome, and disagreeable in the beginning, but before the five days
of sessions were over an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect, if not always of friendliness had been established,
and the various commissions, educational, social, and even political, had made their reports, voted on democratically, to
the plenary session, and there all recommendations were adopted unanimously. I submit, therefore, that it is possible to work
with communists, that I am truly convinced that I have lost nothing by doing so, and that, on the contrary, I have contributed
in my very small individual way toward a better international atmosphere in which it may be possible for people to breathe
and not burn.
At the projected Conference for World Peace I expect to plug away along the same lines, getting in my work wherever possible
for the evolution of the UN into a World Government, and I am willing to bet that when you get Linus' reply you will find
that he and I (you, too, for that matter) are really not very far apart.