Poet, on Way To Wellesley, Is Denied Visa

Copyright, 1950, by the Editors of THE HARVARD CRIMSON.

(The story of the exclusion of Pierre Emmanuel first came to the CRIMSON's attention in October. Since then it has been investigated through all possible sources. Not until this week has enough information been available to put together in coherent form a story not previously published in this country.--The Editors.)

Months of investigation and correspondence have finally established that Pierre Emmanuel, 35-year-old Wellesley College professor-to-be, failed to get an entry visa from U.S. officials in Paris last summer because of alleged Communist affiliations and beliefs. Emmanuel, French poet, government official, and former Resistance fighter, was not cleared for entry into the U.S. in time for him to take up teaching duties at Wellesley last fall or at Ohio State University last summer, although he was never explicitly denied a visa by the U.S. Consul in Paris.

Emmanuel, his friends, and Wellesley officials state that he is not a Communist. U.S. consular officials in Paris questioned Emmanuel last May and apparently decided that he was at least a Communist sympathizer. Nevertheless, State Department officials still contradict each other when explaining why Emmanuel never got his visa.

Acheson Statement

In a letter to Mrs. C. Bruce (Marjorie) Hsley, chairman of Wellesley's French department, Secretary of State Dean Acheson on December 22 stated that Emmanuel did not get a visa because he had abandoned his application before American consular officials in Paris had decided on his case.

But just three days earlier, Robert Grinnell, American Consul in Paris, wrote the CRIMSON that Emmanuel "was found to be ineligible to receive a visa as a person inadmissable into the United States under the provisions of the Act of October 16, 1918, as amended, relating to certain political beliefs... or affiliation with, certain organizations."

Michael J. McDermott, State Department press officer, told the CRIMSON in December that Emmanuel was "found inadmissible under our laws." H. J. L'Heureux, chief of the State Department's Visa Division in a letter to Mrs. Hsley last week, said that Emmanuel had (1) withdrawn his application, but (2) that he was inadmissible.

And finally, writing to a U.S. Senator on January 3 in a letter that cannot be quoted, L'Heureux cited the act of 1918 and its amendments and stated that Communists, or persons at any time affiliated with the Communist Party are considered to be ineligible to receive visas under those laws.

When Mrs. Hsley read this letter, it was the first and only time that anyone at Wellesley had seen any official, written confirmation of what everyone concerned with the case had long understood: that Emmanuel could not get a visa because of his allegedly leftist beliefs, actions or affiliations.

Emmanuel Writes

What these beliefs and actions were, came out in a letter to the CRIMSON from Emmanuel himself, dated December 18. Explaining his position and his indignation at the "police-methods" by which he says he was questioned at the American Embassy, Emmanuel reports that he did withdraw his visa application on two occasions, when he could no longer wait for this consul's decision.

Emmanuel, his friends in the U.S., and the French Communist Party all agree on one fact: none of them believe that Emmanuel is a Communist. None of them deny, however, that the poet worked side by side with the French Communists while the Nazis occupied their country. French Communists are quite bitter over the fact that Emmanuel is no longer with them. And Emmanuel himself has this to say:

"During the resistance movement I... worked closely with communists. And I assure you they were good friends and courageous fighters. Like many others. I believed there was something to be done with them after the war. We tried: we went as far as we could; we failed. Seen from Washington, it seems perhaps a mistake to have tried; seen from here, it is a tragedy to have failed."

Wellesley Aroused

Wellesley officials are disturbed over a policy which excludes from the country a recognized man of letters appointed to teach at a leading American college. Some of them are angered at what appear to be contradictions in the State Department's explanation of the long and tangled affair.

The case of Pierre Emmanuel actually began in May 1948. "I was asked by our Foreign Ministry," he wrote to the CRIMSON, "to give a series of lectures in the U.S." He applied for a tourist visa, and after questioning him twice, the Embassy granted it. "As a writer," he reports, "I was suspected, and had to prove I was not a communist, which I suppose I did, since the visa was granted. The main difficulty seemed to be that I had been a member of France-URSS until the end of 1947. But many non-communists, who are now strong anti-communists, were my fellow members at the same time." (France-URSS is a pro-Communist publication.)

Emmanuel spent two months in the U.S. in the fall of 1948. He found his trip "extremely pleasant." Under the auspices of Alliance-Francaises he lectured on cultural subjects, and he met many persons in and around Boston.

One of the persons Emmanuel spoke to was Le Roy C. Breunig, assistant professor of Romance Languages and Literature, who calls it "preposterous to accuse him of being a Communist." According to Breunig, Emmanuel is a serious, tense, individual, completely wrapped up in his literary work. "Above all, he is an artist," the professor reports. "He seemed a man predisposed to like America," Breunig goes on. "He praised America and the spots he had visited... (He resembles) the epic nature of Victor Hugo... (is) quite sure of his own importance, not modest, but not unpleasant."

Girls Delighted

Emmanuel's 1948 itinerary included a weekend at Wellesley. Mrs. Hsley reports: "The girls were delighted; we were charmed." It was Mrs. Hsley who suggested to the Wellesley faculty that the poet be offered the Mary Whiton Calkins Professorship for the 1949-1950 academic year. (The Calkins Professorship shifts from department to department each year.)

Emmanuel, who had been a teacher before, accepted immediately. A short while later, Ohio State University asked him to lecture at its summer session in 1949, and this offer too, was accepted, and the arrangements made.

The poet late in 1948 returned to France and his job as head of the American service of the French government's short-wave broadcasting system. In April, 1949, he walked into the American Embassy on the Place de la Concorde in Paris and filed application for a new visa.


The first visit consisted only of familiar routine. Emmanuel filled out some forms, was assured by the entry clerk that he would get his visa as soon as he was interviewed by the vice-consul, and was told to return in May.

About three weeks later, on the appointed day, Emmanuel was questioned by Mr. Stranger, the vice-consul. (The consul's record of this interview has not been made available, so everything known about the questions and answers of that afternoon comes from Emmanuel.)

First, according to Emmanuel, Stanger wanted to know if he was a Communist. "I said no." Then Stanger asked him to explain his former close affiliation with a French weekly, Les Lettres Francaises. Emmanuel told the vice-consul that the National Committee of Writers had formerly controlled that publication, which had only recently fallen into the hands of the Communists.


Then came what Emmanuel calls "a rather queer question." Stanger asked: were you a friend of Jean Richard Bloch? Emmanuel writes, that Bloch, who died in 1947, "was an important French writer, President of the Association of the French Press, and also a communist." Emmanuel answered Stanger that he had met Bloch several times, but could not call himself a friend of his. Why then, Stanger asked, did you attend his funeral?

Emmanuel explained that many non-Communists, regarding Bloch as a man of letters and a journalist, had paid their respects at his grave.

The vice-consul brought up a trip behind the iron curtain that Emmanuel had taken in 1947. Stanger insisted, Emmanuel reports, that because of this trip "there was a strong suspicion that I may be a Communist."

Official Visit

Stanger "ignored" the fact, Emmanuel writes, that the French government had sent the poet to the Eastern European countries on an official lecture tour similar to his journey to the U.S. in 1948. After his trip to the Balkans, the poet wrote some disillusioned articles for which the Communists have not forgiven him, and while in Rumania, he was branded an American agent by the Rumanian press.

Stanger then went back to "the France-URSS business," according to Emmanuel, and was assured that the poet was no longer a member. Other questions, some touching on communist publications that had carried his poems, concluded Emmanuel's first interview with Stanger. The poet was told to return on May 17, several days later.

Repeat Performance

On that date Stanger asked Emmanuel the same questions, heard the same answers. Then he told the poet that his case must be referred to Washington. "How long will it take?' said I. 'Three to four weeks.'" Emmanuel was expected at Columbus on June 17.

"I could not take the chance of keeping the Columbus people waiting," he writes. "Neither had I any desire to see the stupid information gathered about me in the hands of the FBI... And I was fed up with the whole business. I did what nobody else does... I took back my passport and my application for a visa."

A few days later, with the story whipping around Paris, Emmanuel was called by an "embarrassed" official and told that the Consul-General, Mr. Gray wanted to speak to him. On the 21st, Gray promised Emmanuel that he would ask for a special priority, but, would not predict what the State Department would decide. "I said I did not want any favor: just the ordinary routine. It was impossible for me to wait longer: I had then made up my mind not to go to the States... I did not want to be a suspected person ... on the FBI files."


That night Emmanuel wrote a long letter to Mrs. Hsley, and at about the same time he wrote to Ohio State, cancelling the Columbus project because there was no hope he could get a visa in time to reach Ohio by June 17. But there were still three months before September, and Wellesley was counting heavily on Emmanuel's presence here this year.

So Mrs. Hsley began a long correspondence with the State Department, with the French Embassy in Washington, with Senators, with friends in France a correspondence which culminated in the letters of this month but which didn't get Emmanuel his visa.

At first Mrs. Hsley was assured that everything was all right. Early in June, a State Department official told her that a minor official in Paris had bungled, that the affair was cleared up, and that if Emmanuel re-applied he would get his visa with no trouble. This assurance, Mrs. Hsley regrets, was never put in writing.

A few weeks later, therefore, Emmanuel applied again. It was now six weeks after his first interview. He still had approximately nine weeks during which a visa would get him to Wellesley in time for the fall term. But there was still no visa. Instead "there was Mr. Stanger, with the same old questions which I refused to answer any more. He told me: you don't want to cooperate? No, said I: I only want the routine to begin."

Emmanuel had renewed his visa application early in July. Not until August 3, according to the State Department, did the Embassy report the renewal. On August 19, the State Department wrote Mrs. Hsley that an "appropriate" instruction was on its way to Paris.

No News

But on August 26th, Emmanuel told a friend that the Embassy had given him no news that morning. On August 27th, a Mr. McQuade at the Embassy said that "it all rests with Washington and you can't hurry Washington."

The Department's instruction was not actually dispatched until nearly two months after Emmanuel filed his new application. In last week's letter to Mrs. Hsley, L'Heureux said: "An appropriate instruction was therefore transmitted to Paris on August 31, 1949, for the guidance of the consular officer," with whom the final decision, L'Heureux said, legally rests.

On the same day, August 31, Emmanuel had decided that he could wait no longer. His job in France required a month's notice before leaving. He was due in Wellesley in September. He phoned Stanger and in effect withdrew his application a second time. This gave the Consulate, he writes, "the chance of not refusing my visa, without giving it."


There is no indication that Emmanuel's withdrawal and the dispatching of the instruction on the same day was any more than coincidence. Wellesley faculty members were disturbed, however, over what one of them termed "passing the buck:" That is, Paris officials stating that they had to wait for word from Washington while Washington was pointing out that the final decision was up the consular officials in France. Wellesley teachers are also indignant at the type of questioning Emmanuel was put through.

The most recent letters of the State Department, while explaining that Emmanuel did not get a visa because he withdrew his application before a decision had been made, nevertheless state that a decision was made; a decision that Emmanuel was "found to be inadmissible under our laws."

Legal Basis

One law, withs its amendments and one section of the Code of Federal Regulations are cited by the State Department as the legal basis for this decision. The law, enacted October 16, 1918, states, in part, that aliens "who are anarchists... (or) who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States... (or) who are members of or affiliated with any organization that entertains a belief in, teaches or advocates (such overthrow) shall be excluded from the United States."

An amending act of June 5, 1920, gives one definition of such affiliation, but states that this "shall not be taken as an exclusive definition." This amendment implicity allows the authorities discretion in deciding who comes under its provisions.

The Alien Registration Act of June 28, 1940 extends the act of 1918 to "any alien who at any time shall be or shall have been" a member of, or affiliated with a group advocating violent overthrow.

The regulation cited by the State Department, Section 53.33 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines certain aliens whose entry is considered "prejudicial to the interests of the United States," and who are therefore to be excluded. These persons include members of or persons affiliated with organizations (1) associated with foreign governments "opposed to measures adopted by the Government of the United States in the interest of the United States," or (2) which work to "counteract the effectiveness" of U.S. measures.

And finally, L'Heureux has stated that persons who are or were Communist Party members, or affiliated with the Communist Party are considered excludable under the legislation.

Say He's No Red

Convinced that Emmanuel is neither a Communist nor a fellow-traveler, Wellesley authorities and other persons who know the poet do not believe that his wartime alliance with Communist Resistance fighters and writers should be held against him now.

They contend that by such a token every anti-Nazi was in some way affiliated with the Communists. They find it hard to believe that Emmanuel's presence at the funeral of a Communist or his official trip to Communist Eastern Europe brand him a Communist himself.

Emmanuel, according to Professor Breunig, is actually a Catholic mystic poet who is aligned with the Christian Socialists, a liberal movement opposed to both Capitalism and Communism: The name Pierre Emmanuel is a pen-name, symbolic of "the rock upon which his faith is founded" (Pierre) and God With Us (Emmanuel). (Pierre Emmanuel's original, and still legal name is Noel Mathieu.)

Half-Way Spot

Emmanuel's political position lies somewhere between U.S. policy and the Communist line. It is frankly far from both. "I am not exactly a friend of U.S. foreign policy," he writes, "though I see we have to deal with it as we can, for the time being, until Western Europe has recovered a power of its own."

But his disillusion with all manifestations of Communism, heightened by his trip to the Balkans in 1947, has been repeatedly expressed in French newspapers. In October 1949, he wrote four articles two of them vehemently attacking what he called the Communist suppression of the individual. The third article attacked the U.S. foreign policy as hypocritical. The fourth compared the U.S. and Russia and found no chance for faith or for the individual in the policies of either country.

Soon after these articles appeared in Le Monde, both sides reacted. The U.S. Embassy protested, and Emmanuel was shifted from his job with the American service of the French Broadcasting system. From the Communists came a long caustic, open letter of reproach and attack, by Claude Roy in Les Lettres Francaises.

End of an Alliance

Emmanuel appears to have drifted gradually from his wartime alliance with the Communists, rather than to have made a sudden break. He did not sign, for instance, petitions defending Joliot-Curie, attacking France's Indo China policies, or protesting the Atlantic Pact-petitions considered in France to be Communist inspired.

Yet as late as 1949 he was on friendly personal terms with French Communists, and he is certainly not entirely on the American side of the cold war.

Albert Chamber, French Consul-General in Boston, and Mrs. Hsley both think that Emmanuel's experience with the U.S. Embassy last summer may stifle what they believe was a genuine affection for this country. Mrs. Hsey says: "Emmanuel came last year with friendship and love of America in his heart. We have altenated that man. America has lost a friend."

In His Own Words--

"I am convinced that you (the U.S.) are a powerful though adolescent nation, whose vitality may lead you to the best as well as to the worst... Historically, you were pushed too soon on the foreground of the world scene; it is a tragic responsibility, which you deserve in some ways, not in all... I am prepared to acknowledge that leadership, with due restrictions coming from my deep contact with another superiority: the European one...

"During the resistance movement I worked closely with communists... I believed there was something to be done with them after the war. We tried: we went as far as we could; we failed. Seen from Washington, it seems perhaps a mistake to have tried; seen from here it is a tragedy to have falled, and to measure what communism is becoming even among old friends..."  Pierre Emmanuel,  letter to the CRIMSON,  December 18, 1949Secretary of State ACHESON finally answered Mrs. Hsley's pleas for information about Pierre Emmanuel's status after Mrs. Hsley had requested Mrs. Acheson to bring the matter to her husband's attention. Mrs. Acheson, it turns out, is a Wellesley alumna.