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A Letter From The Publisher: Dec. 9, 1966

3 minute read

“IT was premeditated murder masked by a toothy smile,” wrote TIME a quarter of a century ago about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Another of our reports that week concluded: “The U.S. had embarked on the greatest adventure in its history: to make the world really safe for democracy.”

On this 25th anniversary, there are still a few staffers here who can recall that frantic Sunday. The first inkling at TIME was a roar from a senior editor as he read the first A.P. wire dispatch. After the initial shock, everything went in orderly progression. Staffers who were on vacation streamed back to the office. With only 24 hours until deadline time (the magazine went to press on Monday nights then), the editors scrapped the planned cover on Walt Disney’s elephant Dumbo in favor of the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Husband Kimmel. A new section, called The U.S. at War, appeared at the front of the magazine.

In the decades since, history has worked its vast and familiar changes —and the toothy smiles seem a lot friendlier now. Japan is a firm U.S. ally. For this week’s issue, as a matter of fact, we had considered a cover story on Japan’s Premier Sato. But the editors decided that the news about the formation of Germany’s new government was more urgent. Thus, this week’s cover on Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger—who represents another example of how former foes can change.

Practically everyone connected with the cover story was typecast for the job. Bonn Bureau Chief Herman Nickel was born in Berlin, has been covering Germany for four years. He was able to get a 45-minute interview with Kiesinger an hour after he took the oath of office—the first interview granted by the new Chancellor. On hand to help were Correspondent Gisela Bolte, our German economics specialist, and Stringer Burton Pines, who is working for a doctorate in modern German history. European Economic Correspondent Robert Ball, stationed in Zurich, came to Bonn for the story; Ball is an old German hand who had put in an eleven-year stint in Munich and Berlin.

In New York, Senior Editor Edward Jamieson had a team equally bristling with expertise. Texas-born Writer David Tinnin spent four years studying history and philosophy at Heidelberg University. When he left Germany in 1953, he took away several all-German sports awards for his track ability—and a German wife. Researcher Ingrid Krosch grew up in New York with her German parents, knows Germany well. Researcher Mary McConachie worked for three years on a British Foreign Office project on postwar Germany.

In the Kiesinger cover, TIME examines the mood of Germany and finds a democracy concerned with many of the problems that democracies everywhere face. Our recent coverage of Japan reflects similar concerns.There are no serious threats of major war, no dictators lurking in the background. It makes Pearl Harbor, and the four years that followed, seem fortunately distant.

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