A Lutheran missionary who chose to remain in Red China for three and a half years after his release from a Communist prison in 1957, arrived in New York last month after a 35-day voyage from Hong Kong.
He is the Rev. Paul J. Mackensen, 35, believed to be the last American Protestant missionary to leave mainland China. His decision to stay in China after his release from prison—because, he said, he liked the Chinese people—contributed to reports he had been brainwashed.
The lanky, deeply-tanned bachelor clergyman was friendly toward reporters, but refused to discuss his 12 years in Communist China, five of which were spent in prison for alleged “acts threatening security.”
“I have no plans whatsoever, other than seeing my folks,” he said. “But I will probably stick around for awhile.”
Mackensen declined to say whether he would try to return to Communist China. Neither would he comment about conditions there.
He went to China in 1948 on a call from the Board of Foreign Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America, and began his ministry at Tsingtao after a year of study at the School of Oriental Languages and Culture in Peiping.
The year he started his work in Tsingtao, the Communists took over that area, but Mr. Mackensen decided to remain at his post. He did not ask for permission to leave China until 1950.
His request was refused, and there were indications he was under Communist surveillance. He was arrested shortly before midnight on March 7, 1952, charged with “acts threatening security” and sentenced to five years in prison for alleged espionage.
Late in 1955, Mackensen was transferred from Tsingtao to Shanghai. A year later, he and other prisoners were taken on a 24-day, 3,000-mile trip “to see the new China.”
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