Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

The 1950s at Home and Abroad

Historic Events

Landmark Visit to Burma of David Ben-Gurion, Founder and First Prime Minister of Israel

On 5 December 1961, the founder and first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion made a landmark visit to Burma. Few remember that Burma in the 1950s and early 60s had particularly close relations, including military relations, with Israel. Both countries had achieved independence from the British Empire at the same time, both found themselves immediately at war, and both were governed (initially) by elected socialist governments. Burma was the first country in Asia to recognize the Jewish state (in...

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Richard Nixon's Visit to Myanmar in 1953

Richard Nixon, as Vice-President of the United States of America, visited Myanmar in 1953. The US papers at the time all reported on his confrontation with left-wing and anti-American demonstrators at Pegu. A very witty Burmese communist held a sign that reads:  “Pax Vobiscum 
  Scant regard for homo sapiens of the East 
 Begets doubts about your move for peace.  
Rest assured, however, of one important fact
  That we shan't fight like Kilkenny cats
  To ensure for ravenous...

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Prime Minister U Nu’s visit to the United States

Prime Minister U Nu made an official visit to the United States. The trip lasted more than three weeks, from 24 June to 16 July 1955, and included Washington D.C., New York, Ann Arbor (Michigan University), Knoxville (Tennessee), San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Grand Canyon (Arizona). He was accompanied by his wife, Daw Mya Yi, U Thant (then Secretary, Prime Minister's Office), and Colonel Lwin (later head of Military Intelligence) as well as Burma's Ambassador to the US and...

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U Myint Thein delivered one of the best performances in UN History

On 17 April 1953 at the United Nations, Justice U Myint Thein brilliantly laid out the Burmese government's charge against Kuomintang aggression. Over the past several years, more than 10,000 Nationalist troops under KMT General Li Mi had crossed into Burma, and were by 1953, with active US intelligence support (Operation Paper), pushing west across the Salween and threatening all the Shan states. The KMT was also building up a massive trade in opium. The Burma Army, then facing communist...

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Dag Hammarskjold’s Visit to Rangoon

On 6 February 1956 Dag Hammarskjold visited Rangoon and enjoyed evening cocktails with President Dr. Ba U and Commerce and Industry Minister U Raschid at Government House. Dag Hammarskjold was the 2nd Secretary-General of UN Secretary-General. He was arguably the organisation's best chief ever, providing tremendous intellectual leadership, courage, and managerial talent. His top aides were the greatest international civil servants in history - Dr. Ralph Bunche and Sir Brian Urquhart. He was on a round-the-world tour and later wrote...

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U Nu’s visit to China in 1954

Despite the many ups and downs of Sino-Myanmar relations in modern times (including Beijing backed the communist invasion of 1967), all Myanmar leaders since independence have made several visits to our giant eastern neighbour. This is a photo of U Nu with Mao Zedong during U Nu's first trip in December 1954. The Prime Minister's party included U Thant, Colonel Aung Kyi, U Myint Thein, and U Win Pe. Chairman Mao was likely surprised by U Nu's frankness on many...

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Myanmar's distinguished civil servant: U Nyun

U Nyun, one of Myanmar's most distinguished public servants, was born on 20 January 1910 and was educated at Rangoon, Oxford and London Universities. He served in the ICS and then as a senior civil servant in the independent Burma government, before joining the UN in 1953. From 1959 - 1973 he was the Executive Secretary of UN ECAFE (now ESCAP), working directly under Secretaries-General Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant. U Nyun was one of many trained and experienced Burmese...

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Ethiopia Emperor in Rangoon

The Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia at Government House in Rangoon. 

Emperor Haile Selassie I (ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ), "the Conquering Lion of Judah", the descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, "Elect of God", who reigned from 1930-1974 and who was of course revered by many Rastafarians as the Messiah.

 Haile Selassie is perhaps best known around the world for leading Ethiopia's resistance to the Italian invasion of 1935-6 and his impassioned appeal to the League of Nations. 


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On the Way to the 1955 Bandung Conference

The April 1955 Bandung meetings were a testament to Burma's then dynamic international diplomacy. They were also a testament to Mingaladon airport's position as an international aviation hub - everyone had to stop in Rangoon anyway to travel to Indonesia. The photo was taken at Government House, from left to right: North Vietnamese Foreign Minister, later Prime Minister Pham Van Dong; Afghan Foreign Minister HH Sardar Muhammad Naim; Chinese Premier Chou En-lai; President Dr Ba U; Indian Prime Minister Nehru;...

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Census of 1953-57

The Government of Burma held a national census over several stages between 1953 and 1957. The Census Commissioner was ICS U Kyaw Khine. He was assisted by the (US AID funded) UN census adviser Milton Lieberman. In this 1953 photo, they are asking the first census question to President Dr. Ba U at the President's House. 

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