New York World Telegram

February 17, 1942


All that the sponsors were looking for were some hillbilly singers to help start off the "This Is War" radio series last Saturday. That is the four-network, nationwide morale broadcast which was initiated at the White House and is the most ambitious program of its kind ever tried by the government.

So Norman Corwin, the director, picked the Almanac Singers, a mixed chorus, and after Lieut. Robert Montgomery told how America soon will be singing songs they chanted a little number called "Round and Round Hitler’s Grave."

The program’s backers were much upset today to learn that the Almanac Singers hare long been the favorite balladeers of the Communists and their official publications, the Daily Worker and New Masses.

A Plow Under Song

Up to the time the Communists stopped belittling the defense efforts, one of the favorite numbers of the Almanac Singers, recorded in a series entitled Sing Out For Peace, ran:

“C for Conscription and C for Capital Hill
"It’s C for Congress that passed that —— bill.”

Another one, Plow Under, went this way:

“Remember when the AAA"
"Killed a million hogs a day?"
“Instead of hogs it’s men today — "
“Plow the fourth one under,"
“Plow, under, plow under."
"Plow under every fourth American boy.”

Backers Are Upset

In fact these songs were denounced as “Strictly Subversive” and intend­ed to "ridicule the American defense efforts, democracy and the army" in a pamphlet called Poison In Our System which was distributed by the Council for Democracy.

Allen Meltzer, who is in charge of publicizing the This Is War series, said today its backers were “very upset” to learn about the Almanac Singers.

He pointed out they were hired at union scale and kept anonymous in the program and script and all they did was a "sixty second fade-in and fade-out.”

Mr. Corwin is not entirely unaware of Communist activities. For January a year ago he was listed as one of “a brilliant array of talent” who agreed to write the script for a coast-to-coast broadcast on behalf of the American Rescue Ship Mission which was then under fire as a Communist front.

In this case. however, he was unaware of the Almanac Singers’ background, according to Mr. Meltzer, who added that the singers will not be on any of the remaining twelve programs in the series.