“Jews” Tried to Kill Truman in 1947
The date is December 3, 1972, and it’s right there in a headline of the Tri-City Herald, the newspaper that serves Pasco-Kennewick-Richland in the state of Washington:“Jews sent President Truman letter bombs, book tells.” The newspaper picked up the article, we see, from the Associated Press (AP).
Not only does the article carry the authority of the AP, but the book in question bears the authority of none other than President Harry Truman’s own daughter, Margaret. It is her biography of her father, entitled simply Harry S. Truman, and at the time the article was written, the book had just been published. The passage in question—a long paragraph that begins on page 489 and ends on page 490 (pp. 533-534 of the paperback edition)—is in a section on threats and attempts on President Truman’s life. Note that she misidentifies Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary, which he had not been since 1938. Later, of course, he would become Prime Minister. Ernest Bevin was Foreign Secretary in 1947, and he was the primary target to the assassination attempts:
In the summer of 1947, the so-called Stern Gang of Palestine terrorists tried to assassinate Dad by mail. A number of cream-colored envelopes about eight by six inches, arrived in the White House, addressed to the President and various members of the staff. Inside them was a smaller envelope marked “Private and Confidential.” Inside that second envelope was powdered gelignite, a pencil battery and a detonator rigged to explode the gelignite when the envelope was opened. Fortunately, the White House mail room was alert to the possibility that such letters might arrive. The previous June at least eight were sent to British government officials, including Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. The British police exploded one of these experimentally and said it could kill, or at the very least maim, anyone unlucky enough to open it. The mail room turned the letters over to the Secret Service and they were defused by their bomb experts. The Secret Service still screens all our mail.
The AP article also reminds us that the news of the aborted attack on Truman did not originate with Margaret Truman, some quarter century after the fact. It had been reported in far greater and more accurate detail by White House staff mail reader Ira R. T. Smith (with Joe Alex Morris) in his 1949 book, Dear Mr. President … The Story of Fifty Years in the White House Mail Room. Fortunately, that entire book is now online here. This is from pp. 229-230:
On another occasion, in the summer of 1947 I was summoned back to Washington from my vacation because controversy over important issues, including the Palestine question, had greatly increased the volume of mail to the President. I was rather surprised that the volume should be more than could be handled routinely by the office but when I got back I found that not all the difficulty was due to volume. Some of the letters received had obviously been intended to kill.
There had been a flurry in England in June of that summer because eight or more government officials and political personages had received terrorist letters in which explosives were cleverly concealed. Among those who got such letters were Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones, President of the Board of Trade Sir Stafford Cripps, and former Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. Cripps’s secretary noticed that the letter he received was hot (police said later it was apparently about ready to explode) and he stuck it in water. http://www.dcdave.com/article5/120510.htm