Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Halyard Mission" 50th Anniversary Celebrated in Chicago as world commemorates D-Day 1944-1994

By Aleksandra Rebic

Americans and Serbs from all over the United States and Canada gathered together on May 31, 1994 in Chicago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 'Halyard Mission' rescue operation and pay homage to the American veterans of World War II and the Serbs under the command of General Draza Mihailovich who had saved their lives. The 'Halyard Mission' was the name given to the greatest rescue of American and Allied lives from behind enemy lines in the history of warfare. It was a day of celebration, rememberance, gratitude and tears. For those that attended, it was a moving and unforgettable event. For the guests of honor, it was an opportunity to tell a story of epic proportions.Fifty years before, in 1944, Serbian General Dragoljub Draza Mihailovich, his Chetnik forces, and the Serbian people loyal to them, saved the lives of hundreds of Allied fliers who had been stranded in Yugoslavia after having been shot out of the skies by the Germans while flying their bombing missions over the Ploesti oil fields of Romania. The Allied Ploesti mission was to destroy Hitler’s main supply of oil at the time and bring the Nazis to their knees. Many of those who survived the severe German retaliation would end up wounded and stranded in Yugoslavia, but would be saved, taken care of, and returned back to safety through the Halyard Mission rescue operation of 1944. In 1994, 50 years later, this rescue operation, which had more or less remained hidden from history for the past half century, was brought into the light of day on a grand scale for the first time.

This great feat, the Halyard Mission rescue operation, was officially noted in all of the releases and information disseminated by the World War II Commemoration Committee in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. That committee, chaired by Colonel Kenneth A. Plummer and overseen by the United States Department of Defense, organized a weeklong celebration in Chicago, Illinois in conjunction with special events taking place throughout the world to commemorate the milestone anniverary. This five-day D-Day 50th Anniversary commemoration celebration in Chicago opened with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the successful 'Halyard Mission' rescue operation. This mission was a combined project of the American Strategic Services (O.S.S. - precursor of the C.I.A.) under the command of General William J. Donovan, Lieutenant George (Guv) S. Musulin, of the O.S.S., an American of Serbian descent, and General Draza Mihailovich and his Serbian chetnik freedom fighters in the former Yugoslavia. For different reasons, and always less than noble ones, the Halyard Mission rescue operation that took place over the course of the Summer, Autumn and Winter of 1944 in the German occupied Serbian areas of former Yugoslavia, was kept hidden from official public recognition and covered up, to the point of being left out of the historical texts relating to the World War II era altogether. The Halyard Mission became a casualty of political supression but through the tireless efforts of those who knew the history and the significance of this great event, many of them personally who had lived it and are now deceased, this epic heroic story is now increasingly seeing the light of day.

On May 31, 1994 in Chicago, Illinois, as the world began it's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day, a fifty year debt of gratitude was repayed to Serbian general, Dragoljub-Draza Mihailovich, who was, and remained, the greatest hero of all to those who knew the measure of the man. As the festivities and commemorations continued throughout the week, the Serbs would be the only ethnic group so recognized for their contribution to the Allied war effort.

The Event:

The 50th Anniversary celebration of the Halyard Mission began at the Swiss Hotel the night of Monday, May 30, 1994 with a reunion of the Allied airmen who had taken part in the Ploesti bombing missions and subsequent Halyard rescue operation A private party was held for the war veterans and U.S. liaison officers and personnel, such as Captain Nick Lalich and Major George Vujnovich, and J.B. Allin, who had come to Chicago to attend the celebration, and the party provided an opportunity for the old buddies to reunite and reminisce. Present also was the honorable Edward J. Derwinski, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs. With all the talking and laughing, it was easy to forget for a moment the historical significance of this reunion and the event that had inspired it. Memories were shared, and the younger people present had the opportunity to witness the bond these men still shared after so many years and miles apart.

The next morning, Tuesday, May 31st, as the final preparations for the official Halyard commemoration were being completed, representatives of “The Voice of America” arrived to interview some of the key people present at event. Among those interviewed were Captain Nick Lalich, Major George Vujnovich, author William Dorich, and Chairman of the Halyard Mission Celebration, Mr. Rade Rebic. The interviews were broadcast not only in America but in the republics of the former Yugoslavia as well. Mr. Rebic, explained the need to celebrate the Halyard anniversary in a big way:

“This heroic undertaking during WWII has been, more or less, kept hidden from history for 50 years, not only by the communists of Yugoslavia, but by some of the western democracies as well, for dark political reasons…Much has been been entered into the historical texts that doesn’t reflect the truth of what really happened in Yugoslavia…”

The official Halyard anniversary celebration began at Noon in Daley Plaza in Chicago. The sky was overcast and the Chicago wind greeted the thousands of Serbs and Americans who had gathered in the plaza to pay their respects. The Black Sheep Squadron and a full drum and bugle corps was present to open the ceremony with the presentation of colors. Colonel Kenneth A. Plummer was master of ceremonies and on the stage stood the American and Canadian airmen who had come to Chicago, along with O.S.S. officers Vujnovich and Lalich and the Honorable Edward Derwinski who was responsible for uncovering decades long classified Legion of Merit Award that had been posthumously awarded to General Draza Mihailovich by President Harry Truman. They were escorted by several officers in training of the Junior ROTC program in the Chicago school system, led by Colonel Julius Taylor.

Colonel Plummer welcomed the dignitaries and the public who had gathered. Along with the war veterans, the official dignitaries, and the public, also present for the celebration were a number of young members of ROTC from the various schools throughout Chicago, and members of different foreign consulates in the city.

14 year old Chervonne Johnson sang a beautiful and rousing rendition of the American National Anthem. Colonel Plummer then asked the Serbian Orthodox priests sitting among the American airmen to give the invocation. After the moving blessing, he brought Major Richard L. Felman and Captain Nick Lalich to the podium. Both men, veterans of World War II, acknowledged the great feat and sacrifice embodied in the Halyard Mission rescue operation, with Major Felman issuing a heartfelt “Thank You” to the Serbian chetniks who had saved the lives of the American airmen who had survived the war to be present at the festivities that day, 50 years later.

Colonel Plummer then acknowledged the Rebic family and the City of Chicago for hosting the event.

With the emotional opening ceremony finished, all present were asked to step outside to the Eternal Flame for the laying of the wreath to memorialize those American fliers who had lost their lives in the bombing missions over the Ploesti oil fields in 1944. Major Felman laid the wreath at the eternal flame. Major Felman was wearing the full uniform of the U.S. Army Air Corps that he had worn in combat 50 years before. Among those standing by the flame was O.S.S. officer Major George Vujnovich, who held his hand over his heart As the wreath was quietly laid many of those who had gathered there shed silent tears for all the patriots who had been sacrified for the noble Allied cause.

Photo of the wreath laying at Daley Plaza by A. Rebic from the Rebic collection.

From the Daley Center, the celebration moved to the Swiss Hotel, a beautiful hotel on the shores of Lake Michigan off of Lake Shore Drive, Chicago’s most scenic roadway.

Commemorative displays lined the tables in the reception area, and they included many photographs of the protagonists of the Halyard Mission, with rare photos of the Allied airmen, the Serbian chetniks and, the U.S. liaison officers, and General Draza Mihailovich. Volumes of testimonies about the efforts and successes of General Mihailovich and his Serb patriots in saving the Americans who had been stranded in Yugoslavia during WWII were also on display. 400 handsome brochures titled “The Halyard Mission” from the 1946 issue of the “Blue Book”, written by U.S. Lt. Commander Richard W. Kelly, were available as a souvenir of the event.

The airmen were kept out of the great ballroom until everyone was seated. To open the ceremony, the airmen were escorted into the room accompanied by a film of the mighty B-24 aircraft and the March of the U.S. Air Corps playing on the big screen. Admiral Mack C. Gaston, representative of the United States Department of Defense, present in uniform, greeted each of the airmen as they lined up on the stage. He shook their hands and thanked them for the great service they had done for their country.

After the airmen took their places at their tables, Colonel Kenneth Plummer called on the Serbian Orthodox priests present to give the invocation.

Lunch was then served and during the meal American aircraft were shown on the big screen, accompanied by the patriotic songs popular with the American soldiers during the war.

The commemorative program and tribute began after the luncheon, hosted by Masters of Ceremonies Colonel Kenneth Plummer and Aleksandra Rebic.

Colonel Plummer first read a telegram from General Merrill A. McPeak, the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. The Statement, dated May 23, 1994, read:

“On behalf of the men and women of the United States Air Force, I extend our congratulations and admiration to the survivors of ‘Operation Halyard’ and their rescuers.The courage of the Fifteenth Air Force aircrews who fought their way through fierce Axis opposition to destroy the Ploesti oil fields is a signifcant part of our Air Force heritage. We also join you in extending appreciation to your brave rescuers, who risked their lives to provide refuge and medical care to you, and eventually, to return you to Allied lines.”

Following the reading of the telegram, the State of Illinois and State of Ohio proclamations designating May 31st, 1994 as “Operation Halyard Day” were acknowledged.

The first dignitary to speak was the Honorable Edward J. Derwinski, who had come from Washington, D.C. to be present at the event. He set the tone for the commeration by a giving a compassionate, moving description of the significance of the Halyard Mission event and the cover-up that surrounded the story having been kept hidden for so many years. He reminded the world how General Mihailovich was not only betrayed by the Yugoslav communists but by other political forces that had a vested interest in keeping the Halyard Rescue Mission operation one of the best kept secrets of the 20th century.

Mr. Derwinski was the person chiefly responsible for getting the esteemed “Legion of Merit” medal that had been posthumously awarded to General Mihailovich in 1948 declassified after 20 years of it being kept a national secret. He spoke quietly and emotionally, and at the end became visibly moved, bring tears to the eyes of many of those present. He received a standing ovation and was greeted back at his table by the airmen who remembered well his great service not only as a congressman, but as the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Washington. This was a friend, not only to them, but to the Serbs as well, for his outstanding service on behalf of truth and justice with regard to the Serbian contribution to the Allied cause.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a representative from Chicago in Washington, D.C. spoke next, stressing how much there was to learn from such commemorations and how important it was to explain to his children about events such as Halyard that were being honored and remembered on this anniversary. “We know very little about some of these things,” said Gutierrez.

Featured speaker Hershel Gober, then Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. came to the podium and expressed that this was an emotional meeting of the saved and their rescuers. He thanked both the Americans and the Serbs for their extraordinary service to mankind, and stressed the significance of this celebration for its influence on the younger generation of Americans, many of whom were in the audience that day.

Colonel Plummer then announced that Mr. Voja Mihailovich, the grandson of General Draza Mihailovich, who had traveled to Chicago from Serbia, was in the audience. Voja was greeted with spontaneous applause as the audience rose to give him an ovation. For most in the room, this was the only opportunity to see in person one of General Mihailovich’s living legacies.

The program continued with what for many was the highlight of the celebration. Retired Major Richard L. Felman of the United States Air Force came to the podium in full uniform. Major Felman, being a prominent rescued airman who had remained active in seeking justice for General Mihailovich from the time he was rescued in Serbia to this moment a half century later, spoke for all the airmen. He gave a rousing, passionate, and moving tribute to the Halyard Mission protagonists and pulled no punches. He was determined, he declared, to say on this day everything he had wanted to say for 50 years. He did exactly as he promised, mesmerizing the audience with his story, providing both excellent insight into and a great education about the great historical event he had directly participated in. His tribute served as an inspiration to continue the quest for truth and justice. It could not end there, that day, but must continue, he told the audience, passionately declaring that it had to continue until General Mihailovich and the Serbian people were justly recognized and given their due for their great contribution to the Allied cause. Major Felman became visibly moved a number of times during his presentation. He had never forgotten his debt of gratitude, and never would. Felman would continue his quest to secure public recognition of the Halyard Mission Operation as one of the greatest moments in history until the day he died.

Following his speech, Major Felman presented the George S. Musulin Award, established in 1994 for the first time, to symbolically honor those airmen who had left on their mission to secure the end of WWII and never returned. Colonel George S. Musulin, an officer with the O.S.S. in 1944, was the man primarily responsible for initiating and bringing to fruition the Halyard Mission Rescue operation. The award was presented to Colonel Musulin’s daughters who were present to receive it. The event reunited a number of members of the Musulin family who had not seen each other for quite some time. For the George S. Musulin Award presentation two portraits done by Aleksandra Rebic that had been covered by the American flag were uncovered. One was a portrait of O.S.S. Colonel George Musulin and the other was a portrait of a young woman and her two children, a boy and a girl, looking wistfully to the skies as planes flew overhead, waiting for her husband, and their father to return from his mission, hoping in their hearts that they would seem him come back to them alive.

As Major Felman descended the stage, he was welcomed with a rousing standing ovation. The Serbian priests began singing the beautiful “Na Mnogaja Ljeta Ziveo” which means “May you live many years”, and the Serbs in the audience remained standing, singing in harmony with the priests. Major Felman wiped tears from his eyes as someone in the room explained the meaning of the song to him. He would say later that he would never forget that wonderful tribute and how much it meant to him.

A montage film presentation of Allied Air Force operations during WWII followed on the big screen, with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” playing in the darkness of the room. For the airmen this was an exceptionally emotional moment as they were taken back 50 years to the heroics of their youth and what they had meant to their country.

Last to speak was former O.S.S. liaison officer Captain Nick Lalich, who coordinated the very last evacuation in December of 1944 of Allied airmen from behind enemy lines that had been rescued by General Mihailovich and his Serbian forces. He read directly out of the diary that he had kept during the Halyard Mission operation and concluded with his good-byes to General Mihailovich. Captain Lalich would turn out to be the last American to see General Mihailovich alive. He was yet another man who had been part of history and was there in Chicago on May 31st, 1994 to relive those memories and pass them on in tribute and rememberance. For this American born Serb, it was a “coming home” of the people with whom he had shared the moments that were being so vividly recounted on this special day. The audience sang “Na Mnogaja Ljeta Ziveo” for him as well, as he ended his poignant tribute with his good-bye to General Mihailovich, and he, too, was brought to tears.

The Halyard Mission celebration closed with everyone in the room standing to a beautiful renditon of “God Bless America” as the American flag waved on the big screen in the candlelit darkness of the room.

With that celebration in Chicago in 1994, the story of the Halyard Mission and the magnificent rescues of Allied airmen from behind enemy lines, was no longer to be kept the magnificent “Secret” that it had been for all those years before. So many who were there that day are no longer with us. But, I am sure, they are pleased that what they began continues, and will continue, forevermore.


George Vujnovich: 93-year-old WWII Vet's Heroic Feats No Longer Hidden


93-year-old's WWII feats are hidden no longer

Sunday, November 23, 2008

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

George Vujnovich collection
American fliers enjoy a snack on a C-47, on the way from

Pranjane, Yugoslavia, to Bari, Italy.

South Side native George Vujnovich, 93, appeared at a ceremony in New York yesterday to accept an award as a hero in World War II's Operation Halyard.

Never heard of it?

Few have, despite the release last year of "The Forgotten 500," the first book about the daring mission to rescue 500 downed airmen in occupied Yugoslavia.

Mr. Vujnovich, a Pittsburgh boy who became head of the Office of Strategic Services in Bari, Italy, organized what has been called the greatest air rescue of the war.

In the summer of 1944, U.S. bombers targeted the Romanian oil fields in Ploesti that supplied the German war machine. They flew from Italy and across Yugoslavia to get there.

But Luftwaffe fighters and flak from anti-aircraft guns took a fearsome toll, and many shot-up planes never made it back.

Some 1,500 crewmen had to bail out over Serbia, trapped behind enemy lines and dependent on villagers to hide them from the Germans.

Mr. Vujnovich's team of agents, including a former Pittsburgh Steeler from Johnstown and a crack radioman from Toledo, Ohio, worked with Yugoslav guerilla leader Gen. Draza Mihailovich to airlift 512 men from a makeshift runway carved on a mountaintop.

"We didn't lose a single man," Mr. Vujnovich said last week from his home in Jackson Heights, N.Y. "It's an interesting history. Even in Serbia they don't know much about it."

George Vujnovich

The reason for such obscurity is rooted in the politics of Yugoslavia, which became a communist state modeled after the Soviet Union and run by Josip Broz Tito.

Gen. Mihailovich and his Chetniks, who supported the abdicated Serbian monarchy, were the archrivals of Marshal Tito and his Partisans.

But the Allies needed the support of Joseph Stalin, whose forces were bearing the brunt of Adolf Hitler's aggression.

Influenced by communists who said that Gen. Mihailovich was a Nazi collaborator, the British and Americans sided with Marshal Tito and withdrew support for Gen. Mihailovich, according to Gregory A. Freeman, author of "The Forgotten 500."

In 1946, despite protests from American airmen who said the Chetniks had protected them, Marshal Tito's government executed Gen. Mihailovich.

The story of the mission was suppressed under the Tito regime.

"The communists were in control of Serbia from 1945 to 1995. That's 50 years, and any mention of Mihailovich was a no-no, and so were any feats of bravery and escape and saving of airmen," said Mr. Vujnovich, who graduated from Ambridge High School in 1933. "What aggravated me more than anything else is that we couldn't get the truth out."

That's changing, however.

In 2004, Mr. Vujnovich traveled to Belgrade with Art Jubilian, 85, the Toledo radioman, and two other veterans for the 60th anniversary of Operation Halyard. They visited the village of Pranjani, where a plaque was unveiled on the site of the old airfield.

This summer in Ohio, Mr. Jubilian was honored for his role in parachuting into Yugoslavia to help organize the rescue. Joining him was a local airman, Carl Walpusk, 84, a former state trooper from Moon.

And yesterday in Astoria, N.Y., the Virginia-based OSS Society paid tribute to Mr. Vujnovich and other veterans of the OSS -- the forerunner of the CIA -- as part of a ceremony honoring U.S. agents who helped the Greek resistance.

Mim Bizic, 67, the unofficial historian of the Serb National Federation in Pittsburgh, said Mr. Vujnovich deserves every award he gets.

"He was the point man," she said. "This is such an interesting part of history that nobody knows about. I love it."

Fleeing Hitler

Mr. Vujnovich was born to Serbian parents in 1915 in a section of the South Side dominated by Serbs. He grew up speaking Serbian and English.

When he was 14, he moved to Aliquippa and two years later to Ambridge. After graduating from high school, he worked at a Heinz vinegar plant for $1 a day.

In 1934, he left for college in Belgrade on a scholarship from the Serb National Federation. He studied medicine and met his future wife, Mirjana, a teacher.

After a second meeting in 1939, they became a couple. They spent two years as carefree university students, but it all changed in 1941.

Mr. Vujnovich witnessed the April 6 bombing of Belgrade by the German Luftwaffe. Running for his life, he saw a streetcar obliterated by a bomb.

"The streetcar and the dozens of people inside exploded in a bloody mess of body parts and metal, limbs flying through the air and landing all around," writes Mr. Freeman in "The Forgotten 500."

The book recounts numerous escapes as the couple tried to flee Yugoslavia in the ensuing weeks. Finally they managed to board a Lufthansa flight to Bulgaria.

Mirjana did not have a passport. But her seat mate on the flight was Magda Goebbels, the wife of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda.

Mirjana had been airsick and Mrs. Goebbels had showed her sympathy, patting her hand gently. When the plane landed and an officer asked for passports, Mrs. Goebbels dressed the man down, saying, "She's sick. Help me with this woman or you will hear from me!"

They made it to Bulgaria.

After an odyssey that took them to Turkey and Jerusalem, they ended up in Cairo, only to find the city in a panic because of the advance of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

At a church in Cairo, Mr. Vujnovich met George Kraigher, a Serb who was head of Pan American World Airways. He offered Mr. Vujnovich a job as assistant airport manager in Ghana. Mirjana took a job at the Yugoslav embassy in Washington, D.C.

When Pan Am was militarized for the war effort, Mr. Vujnovich accepted a commission as a second lieutenant and took charge of an airbase in Nigeria. One day, two OSS men visited and asked him to sign up.

After passing a final exam in which he infiltrated Baltimore shipyards to ferret out secret ship-building information, he became the operations officer stationed in Bari, Italy.

'I want my men out of there'

By then, Gen. Mihailovich had been sending telegrams to alert American authorities to the presence of downed U.S. airmen in his territory.

One arrived at the Yugoslav embassy. Mirjana wrote to her husband about the plight of the air crews.

He enlisted the help of Gen. Nathan Twining, commander of the 15th Air Force, to send in C-47 transport planes under the noses of the German occupiers.

"I saw Twining and he thought it would be a good idea," Mr. Vujnovich recalled.

"He said, 'Yeah, I want my men out of there.' "

The lead OSS field agent, the late George Musulin, was a former tackle on the University of Pittsburgh football team who played for the Steelers in 1938. He had parachuted into Yugoslavia in 1943 and made contact with Gen. Mihailovich.

After the Allies cut ties with the guerilla leader, Mr. Musulin had been pulled out of Yugoslavia at the insistence of Winston Churchill, a Tito supporter at the time.

But in Bari, he told Mr. Vujnovich that Gen. Mihailovich and the Chetniks were hiding the airmen from the Germans and that about 100 of them were near the general's headquarters in Pranjani.

The rescue plan called for building an airstrip, without tools and under the threat of German discovery. The Chetniks would continue to herd in downed airmen.

Mr. Vujnovich assembled a team of agents to parachute in and lead the effort. He wanted to go himself, but he received a telegram, signed by President Roosevelt, that said, "Former naval person objects to George Vujnovich going into Mihailovich's headquarters. Therefore he will not be sent."

The "former naval person" was a code name for Churchill.

The first OSS team, including Mr. Musulin and Mr. Jibilian, jumped on Aug. 2, 1944, met with Gen. Mihailovich and got to work directing the airmen to finish the airstrip.

Because of the terrain, it would be only 700 feet long, barely enough for a C-47 to use.

The airlift and the aftermath

On Aug. 9, a herd of cows fortuitously sauntered onto the completed strip just as German planes flew over. The pilots left, apparently thinking the runway was a farmer's field.

That night, four C-47s made a harrowing landing, picked up loads of men and took off, barely clearing the treetops.

More planes came the next morning, escorted by American fighters. A total of 272 airmen had been rescued in two days. Over the next six months, another 240 made it out.

Mr. Vujnovich is especially proud that no one died in the mission. But he still gets agitated at the aftermath.

After the war the Tito regime indicted Gen. Mihailovich, once named Time magazine's "Man of the Year" for resisting Hitler, on charges of treason. Veterans of Operation Halyard protested, to no avail.

Among them were Mr. Walpusk and another state trooper and former airman, the late Paul F. Mato of South Connellsville. In a Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph story, both said the Chetnik leader "is getting a raw deal from the Allied nations."

Former airmen chartered a DC-3, stenciled "Mission to Save Mihailovich" on the fuselage, picked up colleagues in Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and flew to Washington to make their voices heard.

None of it helped.

Gen. Mihailovich was executed by firing squad July 17, 1946, and buried in an unmarked grave.

Two years later, after lobbying by Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Truman posthumously awarded him the Legion of Merit. But according to "The Forgotten 500," it sat in a State Department drawer for nearly 20 years until a Chicago congressman, Edward Derwinski, found out about it in 1967 and insisted the text of the citation be made public.

The medal itself was not delivered until 2005, when Mr. Vujnovich, Mr. Jibilian and other veterans personally presented it to Gordana Mihailovich, the general's daughter.

"The next day in the papers, a so-called historian of the communist Partisans said it was all a lie. He said the Partisans saved 2,800 airmen. There weren't even that many airmen in Yugoslavia. They could provide no names. We have the names, dates, ages, everything," Mr. Vujovich said.

"I don't get angry anymore. I think it's silly and stupid. Everything was covered up from beginning to end."


Saturday, November 01, 2008

George Orwell on the Case of General Draza Mihailovich

By Carl Savich
October 2008

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

George Orwell, "1984" (1949)

When George Orwell published his political satire "Animal Farm" in 1945, he wrote a preface to the book that was deleted and censored from the rest of the text. In the preface, Orwell criticized the censorship and suppression that were endemic in Western countries.

The censored, deleted, and suppressed preface to Animal farm was first published in The Times Literary Supplement on September 15, 1972 as an essay entitled “The Freedom of the Press”. In the preface, Orwell analyzed and deconstructed government and media censorship in Britain during World War II. In particular, Orwell discussed and criticized the British government’s censorship of his book Animal Farm. Orwell analyzed self-imposed media self-censorship and how events and facts were censored and distorted in British society where the government and media suppressed uncomfortable or unpopular truths. In the dystopian satire 1984 (1949), Orwell would term this “duckspeak”, which in Newspeak meant literally to quack like a duck or to speak without thinking.

In 1984, duckspeak is defined:

’There is a word in Newspeak,’ said Syme, ‘I don't know whether you know it: duckspeak, to talk like a duck. It is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied to someone you agree with, it is praise.’

Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought again. ...

Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when The Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.”

George Orwell, whose birth name was Eric Arthur Blair, was a socialist himself throughout his life and career. This is a fact usually censored and detailed in any biographical profile of Orwell. Orwell criticized Soviet Communistic socialism because he was a socialist himself. It took one to know one. The fact that Orwell was a socialist was de-emphasized because the British government and the U.S. government sought o use his writings against the Soviet Union and against communism and socialism during the Cold War.

Orwell became a primary source in the ideological conflict between the Western countries such as Britain and the U.S. and the Eastern countries represented by the Soviet Union and China. So his writings were invariably exploited and prostituted as propaganda in the ideological conflict of the Cold War. Propaganda and ideology are black and white. There is no room for any shades of gray. This is why his criticisms and examination of Western media censorship and suppression were themselves suppressed and omitted. The preface to Animal farm itself was suppressed and censored and deleted from the book. Orwell warned that media suppression in the West represented a “slide towards Fascist ways of thought”.

In the deleted proposed preface to Animal Farm, re-titled “The Freedom of the Press”, George Orwell analyzed the role of censorship in Britain. Animal Farm was written in the form of an allegory or as “a fairy story”. But there was no doubt at all that is was based on and directed against the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin. In the deleted preface, Orwell analyzed British self-censorship. In particular, Orwell examined the case of Draza Mihailovich:

In the internal struggles in the various occupied countries, the British press has in almost all cases sided with the faction favoured by the Russians and libelled the opposing faction, sometimes suppressing material evidence in order to do so. A particularly glaring case was that of Colonel Mihailovich, the Jugoslav Chetnik leader. The Russians, who had their own Jugoslav protege in Marshal Tito, accused Mihailovich of collaborating with the Germans. This accusation was promptly taken up by the British press: Mihailovich’s supporters were given no chance of answering it, and facts contradicting it were simply kept out of print. In July of 1943 the Germans offered a reward of 100,000 gold crowns for the capture of Tito, and a similar reward for the capture of Mihailovich. The British press ‘splashed’ the reward for Tito, but only one paper mentioned (in small print) the reward for Mihailovich: and the charges of collaborating with the Germans continued.”

Orwell also noted instances of censorship during the civil war in Spain from 1936 to 1939:

Very similar things happened during the Spanish civil war. Then, too, the factions on the Republican side which the Russians were determined to crush were recklessly libeled in the English leftwing press, and any statement in their defense even in letter form, was refused publication. At present, not only is serious criticism of the USSR considered reprehensible, but even the fact of the existence of such criticism is kept secret in some cases. For example, shortly before his death Trotsky had written a biography of Stalin. One may assume that it was not an altogether unbiased book, but obviously it was saleable. An American publisher had arranged to issue it and the book was in print — 1 believe the review copies had been sent out — when the USSR entered the war. The book was immediately withdrawn. Not a word about this has ever appeared in the British press, though clearly the existence of such a book, and its suppression, was a news item worth a few paragraphs.”

Orwell analyzed how censorship in the Western countries differed from that in the totalitarian states. In the totalitarian states, censorship was outright and open. In the Western countries, however, censorship was more subtle and covert in nature. Censorship existed in both states, but in the Western state censorship was perceived as benign and innocuous and self-imposed. In Western countries, censorship thus becomes self-censorship.

Orwell analyzed British self-censorship:

We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian 'co-ordination' that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news - things which on their own merits would get the big headlines - being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that 'it wouldn't do' to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

At this moment what is demanded by the prevailing orthodoxy is an uncritical admiration of Soviet Russia.

Obviously it is not desirable that a government department should have any power of censorship (except security censorship, which no one objects to in war time) over books which are not officially sponsored. But the chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of the MOI or any official body. If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion.

It is important to distinguish between the kind of censorship that the English literary intelligentsia voluntarily impose upon themselves, and the censorship that can sometimes be enforced by pressure groups. Notoriously, certain topics cannot be discussed because of 'vested interests'.

The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular - however foolish, even - entitled to a hearing?

Voltaire: 'I detest what you say; I will defend to the death your right to say it'.

If the intellectual liberty which without a doubt has been one of the distinguishing marks of western civilization means anything at all, it means that everyone shall have the right to say and to print what he believes to be the truth, provided only that it does not harm the rest of the community in some quite unmistakable way.

If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

In the January 12, 1945 "As I Please" series in the Tribune, George Orwell discussed censorship and media manipulation and deception in the case of Draza Mihailovich:

I invite attention to an article entitled ‘The Truth about Mihailovich?’ (the author of it also writes for Tribune, by the way) in the current World Review. It deals with the campaign in the British press and the B.B.C. to brand Mihailovich as a German agent. Jugoslav politics are very complicated and I make no pretence of being an expert on them. For all I know it was entirely right on the part of Britain as well as the U.S.S.R. to drop Mihailovich and support Tito. But what interests me is the readiness, once this decision had been taken, of reputable British newspapers to connive at what amounted to forgery in order to discredit the man whom they had been backing a few months earlier. There is no doubt that this happened. The author of the article gives details of one out of a number of instances in which material facts were suppressed in the most impudent way. Presented with very strong evidence to show that Mihailovich was not a German agent, the majority of our newspapers simply refused to print it, while repeating the charges of treachery just as before.”

Self-censorship and media suppression and manipulation are endemic threats in a democratic society. The censorship and suppression of the facts in the Draza Mihailovich case allowed a Communist dictatorship to be established in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell showed that for democracy to be viable and legitimate, self-censorship and media suppression must be understood and examined.