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[countdown] [Admiral William Smith] Citizens that I've talked to about it the commanding officers of submarines and members of the crews there just isn't any question in their mind that that system is needed. [Dr.Craig Kronstedt] But I'm no longer in the Navy and I don't have to obey stupid orders and when they say they're going to put elf in that's a stupid order and I think it's that kind of thing that we have to question and challenge. The continuing controversy over Project elf. A report on tonight's magazine. The Wisconsin magazine for October 29 reporting from Madison. Dave Iverson. Good evening. Welcome to this week's magazine. On tonight's program Poland, Washington D.C. and submarines. Believe it or not, Wisconsin has a connection with all three.
In a moment we'll look at how Polish Americans in Wisconsin are responding to the solidarity movement in Poland. For some it's also a time to march in this country. We'll look back at last month's American solidarity march in Washington D.C. Then Wisconsin's submarine connection. Part one of our report on Project Elf. Solidarity, the Polish workers union, has resisted definition as a political force but its persistent push for government recognition of worker rights is central to the protest movement sweeping Poland. Yesterday in a dazzling show of strength Solidarity brought the country to a virtual halt. Millions of workers walked off their jobs in a one hour strike to protest working conditions such as the six day work week and food shortages in the country. Later in the wake of the widespread strike the government central committee met to hear Party chief Wojciech Jaruzelski once again call for an end to protest and to hint at the possibility of Soviet intervention. Reportedly though the party leader also outlined plans that might include Solidarity and church representatives in the government.
The situation in Poland seems critical and though it's a long way from Warsaw to Wisconsin we do have a large Polish population in this state including some of the country's oldest Polish communities. Carol Cotter visited some of those places and talked with people about past ties and present concerns in Poland. And there's a lot of them that send medicine there that need the money themselves and they'll give, now we've had people that ordered 35 and 40 dollars worth of medicine. They really can't afford it but they sacrifice it for some relatives. I am a man who responds to the events into [well the hand] and sometimes that acting in a way which can be called emotional to the events in this country or to the events in other countries, but it is true, I still feel a deep attachment and a deep concern for Poland. This is Stevens Point where upwards of 70 percent of the population is said to be of Polish
descent, where the country's largest Polish language newspaper is published and where events in Poland bring a renewed awareness of old ties. Yes I believe they're part of us and I do feel for them, it's my heredity, and I think it's, we should, we should do something to help. Very much so, they are oppressed as far as food is concerned and work is concerned. And with the Russian powers in the country and around it they are in great trouble. I hope they can get it straightened out I, sounds very serious. Are you Polish background? No, I am not. I've lived in Stevens Point all my life, so I have a good deal of sympathy for the Polish people. The names have changed. The language is almost lost. But the Polish connection is an old one in this central Wisconsin area. Nearby Polonia is the second oldest Polish settled community in the country. The convent here is the cradle house of the Felician
sisters a Polish order of nuns. [singing] A hundred years ago it was the only Polish orphanage in the United States, first for girls, later only for boys. There are men living today in Stevens Point who've called it home. Now, a mere dozen nuns work to maintain the large house and only their names and sound of prayers and songs echo a time when dozens of little Polish speaking boys ran the high ceilinged rooms. But pride in the Polish origin persists. I always love Poland and I try to keep up the traditionals of Poland and of customs. And I like to upkeep the
Polish language too. And I'm glad that we are allowed to sing in Polish during the prayers, and talk, have conversations in the dining room and when Polish people come over here, well at least we know how to handle them because some of these are Polish that cannot speak English. Somebody told me that Polonia is really the heart of the Polish community, that at one time it was called Polish Corners. That Yes there's a place there they still call it the Polish Corner on Highway 66. But newly arrived Poles are more likely to settle in Stevens Point than in Polonia and in Stevens Point, the impulse to help the hard pressed Polish people translates into sympathy and sacrifice and much of that is funneled through Leo Gwidt's drugstore on the old town square. Do people here care about what's going on in Poland? Oh yes I would say that. Very much.
[woman] I have - [man] They read the papers-[woman] a Polish flag. [man] and they don't they don't uh, they don't know what to do. They'd like to do something, they'd like to help, they're 'fraid to send medicines and things like that because it's confiscated. But now we have agencies that guarantee that the medicine is there, it won't be, they will receive it. Well we send a lot of medication out from America. Sympathy doesn't run out with first generation Poles or with a change in names. And they had long names like [unclear] he changed it to [unlear] There are a number of the younger generation say after 1950 or so. But otherwise they, [unclear Polish name], there were four Z's in it and nobody could pronounce it, but all the Polish people could pronounce it very easily. Although more aspirin are moving from Gwidt's drugstore to [unclear] these days, organized Polish American support for Poland is not new to Stevens Point. UW Stevens Point professor [unclear Polish name] has seen a kind of Polish power
movement in the city for a number of years. [Unclear Polish name] says Polish Americans here are deeply concerned about the events in Poland. Contrary to communist pronouncements that there is no support in the US among people of Polish origin. They continuously published and given pronounced statements that some conventions in the United States that Americans of Polish origin had not been contributed much to Poland and will not and are not and so on. This is false, completely false. Americans of Polish origin of this region and of other regions in the United States. are responding to the events in Poland very keenly. Although many Stevens Point people may not subscribe, be able to read, or even know about the Polish language newspaper, Gwiazda Polarna, which has an international circulation, it is a unique source of information on Poland. Editor [unclear Polish name] says interest is growing locally in him and in the paper.
Anytime I mention that I work for the paper, they want to know more about it, what we cover because some of them don't even know that the paper does exist in Stevens Point. So this is one of the way we are trying to promote the paper plus because of the events in Poland right now they are getting more and more interested in what's going on, how we present that situation so they are trying also to dig out their roots and get more into it. Plus you know the, because of the national coverage on national television, they are definitely interested in it. Poland may seem and indeed may be a thing of the past in this community, in language, in names, and in everyday conversation, but in this time of stress for the Polish people, look to the community leaders here. Scratch the surface in an exchange with longtime residents, and concern is found to be more than casual, rooted in that past. Still the
question is not answered or has not been answered. How do they react to the situation in Poland? Very deeply. What could we do to help. Send things that they need like food like we do to everyone else. And clothing, things that they are short of. I think they'd appreciate that. Today nearly 300,000 workers were off the job again as wildcat strikes spread throughout Poland. President Reagan's own economic policies were the target of an American solidarity march last month. Labor leaders here say that the president sides with the union movement abroad but not at home. They are unhappy about unemployment and angry about Reaganomics. And so the AFL CIO organized its own solidarity march. For many, the March on Washington was a first. A first time to march, a time to take sides. The protesters included hundreds of Wisconsin rank and file union members. Among them four Beaver Dam factory workers. Here are their reflections on the long journey from
Beaver Dam to Washington. [music] [music] [music] [music] [music] [music] [music] We're trying to show our disapproval of the president's policies right now. I don't really think Reagan represents my interests. I think that he is more for for the money person. I don't think that he has our interests at heart at all. We middle class and poor people that we have to let 'em know how we feel; otherwise, nobody's going to know.
I wouldn't say I was a radical. We're the signers of the Declaration of Independence. radicals? I'm standing up for the views of thousands of people. We haven't really, as union officers and small town people, we really haven't gone to many places, so the though of actually going to Washington D.C. to where the president lives was pretty exciting in itself. This is all a part of the solidarity day package that they sent us for our bus. Everybody gets a card to fill out. And I'll pick them up before, because I gotta hand them out when we get to Washington. [woman] Oh it was so exciting coming into Milwaukee and seeing all these people, all these buses jammed together. [man] We want this to be a demonstration, a peaceful demonstration.To demonstrate by the numbers of people that show in Washington what our convictions are as far as Reagan is concerned. [woman] Everybody was so friendly. Everybody was selling buttons and t-shirts and giving away free coffee and you name it.It was just remarkable
Me. Solidarity to me is becoming a family. We were meeting people from different walks of life. People from prisons and hospitals and libraries and we found out their views on their views on Ronald Reagan. We really got to be good friends. We got to have a feeling of unity. The idea that we want more democracy not less but democracy is as democracy in your workplaces as economic democracy and social democracy that you should not be a slave to your job. You should not you should your life should not crumble if a
plant leaves town and you have no control because you you're you're a wage slave. Our jobs are on the line. We make very little money. Many of us have to have two jobs in order to survive. In the 60s they called for more political democracy so in the 80s we have to call for more economic democracy. I'm an organizer and when you're an organizer you understand that when people physically are involved in doing something it's much more meaningful than just something on paper. Furthermore it's very important that people see each other. In these kinds of demonstrations and understand that they're not crazy they're not alone that people share their views and people are willing to fight. [crowd noise] [crowd noise] I was extremely exciting to be on the road for 40 hours really.
[crowd noise] I don't think we slept much of that time. I don't think really got all that tired. We sang a lot. Laughed a lot. Ate a lot. I have a back ache this morning but otherwise. I myself never much paid attention to politics until Ronald Reagan was elected. Then everybody gets worried. This is a time when family, unity, congregation and people are going to congregate. They're going to pull their dues together and protect themselves. The more people that show up Ronald Reagan's not going to think it's 35 unhappy people. it's 350,000 unhappy people and there's probably a lot more that couldn't afford to come.
[singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing]
[people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] [people marching and singing] Our international makes us feel as though we're important people not that we're little people not that we're common laborers we're on the same intelligence level as they are. That what we feel and think is important. Just as important as the people who work in the White House. After we found our unit we waited 2 or 3 hours in line before our turn to march. People were patient. They were excited. They were singing and laughing and dancing and
the whole crowd was excited. There wasn't any bad words. There was jokes and everybody had the song of solidarity but everybody had different words. [crowd noise] Just made me feel terrific and now all of a sudden at that minute I was a part of history. Instead of reading about history I was actually being part of it. Sort of like being part of the Boston Tea Party. [crowd chanting] [crowd chanting]
Never seen so many people in one place in all my life. And it was all there to tell one man and one administration that we're not going to take much more of it. The only thing that troubles me is that in a similar demonstration in 63 they had a legislative agenda that they followed up on afterwards which became the 64 civil rights legislation voting rights act and so on. And I don't see a political agenda coming out of this other than stopping what Reagan is doing. I think it's good for the people who took part in it it's very energizing for us individually but we have to take this energy with us to where unions and to our organizations that were part of and continue it further. 260,000 labor protestors. That's the biggest rally ever in the capital. I definitely intend to stay involved on a hometown level. A state level. A federal level. But yes I intend to stay involved. I love it. More than a quarter of a million people
participated in that march but its lasting impact is very difficult to gauge. The AFL-CIO hopes that it had an effect but the president was out of town the day the march took place. E L F. It stands for extremely low frequency. Tonight we begin a two part series on elf something used in submarine communications. Project ELF has a long and curious history in Wisconsin. It is the boiled down stepchild of projects Sanguine and SEAFARER two a much larger and more expensive enterprises. The president wants to upgrade the current facility at Clam Lake and link up with a new transmitter at K I Sawyer Air Force Base in Upper Michigan. If Congress approves the plan Clam Lake Wisconsin will have a permanent link with nuclear submarines. Meanwhile the controversy continues. The casual observer would never see it never hear it never notice it at all. But deep in the middle of Chequamegon National Forest this X-shaped 28 mile grid of overhead cables carries out a none too casual mission. It talks to
submarines. Extremely low frequency communications. A submarine communication system of the future proposed by the United States Navy. The Navy has tried hard to sell project ELF. And here's how the sales pitch goes. Today a submarine must either come close to the surface to receive a radio communication or it must trail a long antenna that floats on the ocean surface. Either system limits flexibility and increases detectability. ELF signals on the other hand penetrate the ocean depths allowing the submarine to run deep fast and undetected. ELF is like a beeper. It can't tell you much but it can tell you to either stay put or to come up to the surface to receive a more sophisticated message. The man responsible for
Project ELF is Admiral William Smith. I think it's a question of relative value and certainly a number of the citizens that I've talked to about it. The commanding officers of submarines and members of crews. There just isn't any question in their mind that that system is needed. If they are deeply submerged in any potential enemy doesn't know where they are they are I think the most single deterrent we have today for anybody other than a madman to even take a consideration of starting such a thing. And therefore we need to add to our system something that will allow the submarines to stay down where they can't be located. So far it all seems clear enough. But ELF is a murky business. What sounds like a logical theory proposed by one branch of government has been opposed by another. The 1979 General Accounting Office report concluded that ELF could not be justified because of the reliability of existing systems a reliability based on the fact that quote submarines are extremely survivable now.
The report's final recommendation that the secretary of defense terminate any plans to construct an extremely low frequency transmitter. It almost comes down to a question of well who should I believe here. You know. I understand that. I think in the Government Accounting Office report that we were able to see the report as it was written. The question of whether this system was needed may not have been as objectively reviewed as the Navy would have liked. But our submarine safe today without ELF. We feel that our submarines are invulnerable to detection by the enemy. It's very difficult to detect a submarine. And so today we don't need the system so much from the standpoint of protecting that ship. We feel it's protected. I have seen things in the Navy over 7 years time which I didn't believe people giving stupid orders about stupid things. And you had to obey him because they were
orders. But I'm no longer in the Navy and I don't have to obey stupid orders and when they say they're going to put ELF in that's a stupid order and I think it's that kind of thing that we have to question and challenge. Craig Kronstedt spent seven years in the Navy several aboard a submarine. He is now a vehement critic of project ELF. I mean what they're doing is coming up here and making this area in Wisconsin which is one of the most beautiful places in the country into a primary target. Kronstedt lives 50 miles from the clam like Test Facility. He's joined a group of area residents who are fighting the project. This ELF antenna system is part of the whole of increase build up the military thing, you know. And it's getting to that stage were more and more people are asking when is enough. Questions about Project ELF have dominated conversations in the Clam Lake area for over a decade. But many local residents have projected the fears of ELF opponents. I feel probably safer living here in Clam Lake with a project in my back
door than you do living in the southern part of the state. Jerry Holter runs the local gas station and belongs to citizens for ELF. You gotta have faith in your government to a degree that say they know more about it than I do. Who you choose to believe is crucial to the ELF dilemma. Admiral Smith has no doubts about ELF's value. It is he says tomorrow's insurance policy. Additionally insurance provided by this system to the already in- vulnerable submarine is maybe a little subjective but I would put it to you in the same manner that I do when I question how much life insurance is enough for me or my family. How much a life insurance is enough for that submarine commanding officer and his 130 man crew. But people like Craig Kronstadt who once served on those crews have doubts. In part two of the ELF odyssey we'll hear more from both sides and we'll examine questions
The Wisconsin Magazine
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Host Dave Iverson introduces three features: a look at how Polish Americans responded to the Solidarity movement in Poland, a segment about an American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (ALF-CIO) march in Washington D.C, and the first installment of a two-part series over the continuing controversy surrounding Project ELF, a Navy enterprise facilitating communication between nuclear submarines.
The Wisconsin Magazine is a weekly magazine featuring segments on local Wisconsin news and current events.
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Chicago: “The Wisconsin Magazine; 818,” 1981-10-29, PBS Wisconsin, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 18, 2020,
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APA: The Wisconsin Magazine; 818. Boston, MA: PBS Wisconsin, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from