Senate confirmation of President Conant as United States High Commissioner in Germany, not expected until Monday, came last night by a voice vote after a special plea for speed from the White House.
Although there had been rumblings of opposition, only two Senators, Case (R.S.D.) and Dworshak (R.-Ida.), voted against confirmation. Case contended that a speech Conant made in 1944 advocating strict control of German industry after World War II raised "grave doubts" as to whether he could be effective in the post.
Conant had explained to the Foreign Relations Committee, which approved him 15 to 0 on Wednesday, that he made his speech because of his prior knowledge of the atomic bomb.
He flatly denied, however, that he supported or had anything to do with the Morgenthau Plan to make a pastoral country out of Germany.
Question on Reds Here
Conant was questioned extensively on the issue of Communists here, in the light of testimony against him that he was soft on Communism. He told the committee that there were no members of the Communist Party openly or disguised on the faculty here.
Senator Taft then brought up Harlow Shapley, Paine Professor of Practical Astronomy, who, Taft said, has "attended every Communist meeting, important meeting, that we had in this country" and "joined every Communist front."
In reply, Conant flatly asserted that in his opinion Shapley was not a Communist. "I have known him for a long time," he added. "Anybody can be a hidden Communist, as was brought out here, but I do not regard him as one."
In general, Conant said he would not appoint a Communist to any University position but that it would take "institution of a police state" to find a "truly hidden Communist," in a university. He also said that he did not think professors on permanent tenure at a university should be fired for joining organizations which are branded Communist fronts.
Asked by Senator Fulbright why Shapley would join "so many of these organizations," Conant said that he wished to answer in an "impersonal" way and not talk about Shapley "whom I do not want to discuss."
"I can imagine a hypothetical professor," he said, "who corresponds to a number of different university staffs who might join a great many organizations and make statements, which from my point of view are incredibly stupid and not likely to improve the cause of either peace or the security of the United States."
He would do this, Conant said, because of his fondness for headlines. "It is quite easy for such people to be flattered by certain organizations," he added. "They are told they are great. An appeal is made to their humanitarian and, in some cases, pacifistic sentiments."
Some such professors are "naive beyond belief" politically, Conant said, but still are competent professors in their field.