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George Breitman

James Kutcher in Hospital for New Operation

(6 February 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 7, 14 February 1949, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

NEWARK, Feb. 6 – “I’m sorry to be out of action again. I hope I’ll be back on my artificial limbs soon so that 1 canresume my part in the fight for civil liberties.” This was James Kutcher speaking – from his bed in the Beth Israel Hospital where he underwent a new operation on the stump of his left leg yesterday.

It is too early to tell if the operation was completely successful. An inch and a half of bone and some tissue were “trimmed” from his left stump in an effort to make it more adaptable to use of his artificial legs.

In recent months Kutcher had been suffering discomfort and pain; the stump began to bleed occasionally and there was danger of infection. It is believed that this was caused in part, by his increased activity after he was dismissed from his clerical job with the government because of membership in the Socialist Workers Party.

Kutcher will be in the hospital for two or three weeks, until the stitches are removed. Then the stump will have to heal before he can again attempt the use of artificial limbs.

Plans Greater Activity

As he lay on his bed, looking tired and haggard, he was not interested in discussing the operation or its painfulness. Surgery and hospitals are an old story to him by now. Since he was wounded by a mortar shell in Italy 5½ years ago, he has had a total of three operations on each leg.

And there is no certainty that yesterday’s will be the last one. Despite the advances made in the field of artificial limbs, it is not easy to obtain mobility where one leg extends only to just below the knee and the other has no knee at all.

Kutcher made it clear today, however, that he intends to be more active in the future than before:

“I have received invitations to speak before labor, liberal and veteran organizations in many parts of the country. If it is at all possible, I will accept them and maybe make some tours.

“For another thing, there will soon be a hearing on my case before the Loyalty Review Board in Washington. But above all, I want to reach the widest number of organizations and tell them about the real issue in my case – the danger to all democratic rights that arises when the political party in power assumes the authority to blacklist minority parties as ‘subversive’ on the say-so of one man, the Attorney General.”

The VA’s Attitude

The local press played up the fact that the Veterans Administration will pay for the operation, which was performed by Dr. David S. Eisenberg. But evidently the VA did not propose to spend a cent more than it had to, denying him the use of either a private or semi-private room and placing him in a general wardroom crowded with 20 patients. The VA is the same agency for which Kutcher worked for over two years before he was fired last October.

Those who understand the broader meaning of the Kutcher fight, who recognize that he is fighting for all of us as well as himself, will redouble their efforts on his behalf while he is completely disabled. Those who want to communicate with him while he is in the hospital should address their mail to James Kutcher, Ward 201, Beth Israel Hospital, 201 Lyons Ave., Newark 8, N.J.

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