Brief Memories of Henry Shapiro

Here are some memories of Shapiro as captured by the late Dick Harnett of San Francisco, founder of the Downhold listserv:

In October, 1941, the German Panzers were racing towards Moscow and it seemed they would take the Soviet capital.


It was a personal, urgent rate cable (not press), addressed to Hugh Baillie, 220 E. 42nd St., New York. It was from Henry Shapiro. Baillie, president of UP, rushed over to the cable desk, where Charlie McCann was on duty.

Personal message cables cost three times the press rate.

"What in hell is wrong with Shapiro?" Baillie demanded of McCann, waving the yellow half-sheet of paper from the cable company.

McCann asked to see it. He looked in the corner where the point of origin is stated. It was Kuibyshev.

As soon as he saw that, McCann yelled: "FLASH RUSSIANS EVACUATE MOSCOW."

McCann knew that Shapiro would not leave Moscow with his entire staff (which included Wallace Carroll and Meyer Handler) unless the Russian government was moving.

Wartime censorship was strict, but Shapiro's brilliant personal cable to Baillie got through. United Press was two days ahead of all opposition on the Soviet government flight to Kuibyshev.