The American Legin Magazine, June 1950


On May 1, 1950 the American Legion and (most of) the citizens of Mosinee, Wisconsin staged an unusual Cold War "object lesson" in what it would be like to live under Soviet domination. It was on this May Day that a mock Soviet take-over of the town was conducted for the benefit of a huge international press contingent including a reporter from TASS, the Russian news agency. During the elaborate street theater production, the Mayor and Police Chief were "forcibly" relived of their posts, members of the clergy were taken to a barbed wire encampment, the Mosinee Times newspaper was "nationalized" and re-dubbed "The Red Star." Even the local movie theater was forced to stop showing its current feature (GUILTY OF TREASON) and begin running Russian propaganda movies.

Not surprisingly the American Legion magazine gave the over-the-top pageant of paranoia-blended patriotism a rave review in its June 1950 issue. The editors were also quick to point out that their magazine’s evil twin—the Daily Worker—hated the Mosinee stunt: "The commies—that is the real reds—didn't like the demonstration a little bit. The Daily Worker editorialized—the Legion was dubbed a 'fascist' organization...'"

The overall PR success of the fake Mosinee invasion and occupation was marred by two deaths that the American Legion magazine took note of in a highlighted box offset from their otherwise rah-rah coverage:
Mosinee Mayor Dead After Red Attack, The American Legin Magazine, June 1950


The one-day occupation of Mosinee under "red" rule ended with a note of tragedy when Mayor Ralph Kronewetter, 49, was stricken with a heart attack while enroute to the park for the concluding meeting of the day, a patriotic rally. He was removed to a hospital at Wausau, where his death occurred on the night of May 6th.

On the following morning the Rev. Will La Brew Bennett, 72, Methodist minister who had participated in the Mosinee demonstration, was found dead in bed.

"It was a terrible coincidence," commented Franklin Baker, Commander of the Bohnsdahl-Gustin Post of the Legion, which staged the mock invasion.

Other notable articles in this issue of the magazine include the suggestively titled "How to Find a Guy" (it is actually about how to locate an old Army buddy in a strange town) and a primer on how to defend oneself from attack ("Suppose Someone Comes at You") that features accompanying demo photos of escaping the dreaded "bear hug attack."

There is also this outraged letter to the editor concerning Commie hate mail (an issue of American Legion magazine without a letter complaining about Communists would be like an issue of Penthouse without a letter from a "student at a small Midwestern university" who never thought he would be writing in):

In the February issue of American Legion magazine you published an article I wrote about using your magazine as a textbook. Now I am being bombarded with Communist papers and letters asking me not to teach Problems of Democracy...

Some of the papers are called "Freedom and Plenty," "Women's Voice" and "Money." I let my students and the whole school read the letters and papers and then proceed to break down the pack of lies that each paper has. I only wish it were possible to describe some of the trash these people write. They had a poem in one of the papers, about the traitorous Atlantic Pact.

My students were outraged, as well as I, to receive such junk. However, it served a good purpose as well. It showed these rural youth that we have a very dangerous element here in America. It has also shown me that we’ve got a generation of kids that are willing to fight for their country.

Lester Smith, Harrison Valley, PA

For more on the Mosinee invasion and the Americanism pageants of the early Cold War, CONELRAD recommends Richard M. Fried's The Russians Are Coming! the Russians Are Coming!.
Big men like to use this bear hug attack...if his arms aren't pinned, the defender places his thumbs under the ears

By the Editors of American Legion magazine
"It Happened One Day in Mosinee"
June 1950


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