28. Letter From the Director of the Foreign Section, Committee on Public Information (Irwin) to the Chief of the Military Intelligence Branch, Department of War General Staff (Churchill)1

Dear Colonel Churchill:

Your communication of July 10th2 states the thing perfectly satisfactorily with one exception. Paragraph III, perhaps, does not quite express my understanding of the agreement between the Committee on Public Information and the Intelligence Department. Rather, perhaps, this paragraph needs further definition to prevent any kind of misunderstanding after I leave the department.

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The agreement, as I interpreted it, was that the Intelligence Department should have control of the distribution of propaganda into enemy countries, while the Committee should furnish the material therefor. So far my idea perfectly agrees with the statement in your letter; however, I wanted it to be understood that the Committee should have final judgment upon the character of the propaganda, and that the work should be laid out by the American representative on the Inter-Allied Board for propaganda into enemy countries which has its headquarters in London. I further expressed myself at that meeting and now repeat in writing, that we should arrange for the heartiest cooperation and exchange of ideas between the two branches—that the Military Intelligence should be consulted as to its ideas on the character and policy of the propaganda, while the Committee on Public Information should assist in every manner in its power with the work of distribution.

We have virtually appointed Dr. G.H. Edgell of Harvard University3 head of our propaganda work into enemy countries through Italy. He should be on his way to his post in a few days. By the next steamer we are sending over Lieutenant Ferdinand Pisecky to act as writer and interpreter in the Bohemian language. Lieutenant Pisecky is a native Bohemian who deserted as early as possible from the Austrian army, was incorporated into a Jugo-Slav division organized by the Russians and fought with them until the collapse of Russia, when he was sent to the United States by the Czecho-Slovak National Council to organize their work here. He has warm recommendations from Captain Voska.4

I telegraphed to Europe asking James Keeley, former publisher of the “Chicago Herald”, to act as general director of our work in Europe and as a member of the London board.5 He has not yet returned an answer, but I think he will accept.

May I express my appreciation of your prompt action in sending an investigating committee abroad.

Yours as ever,6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 63, Entry 105, Director’s Office of the Foreign Section, General Correspondence, Box 13, Military Intelligence and CPI Agreements. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 27.
  3. George Harold Edgell, historian of architecture.
  4. Captain Emanuel Voska of the Millitary Intelligence Branch, assigned to the Committee on Public Information because of his expertise on Central Europe.
  5. Keeley was the CPI representative to the Inter-Allied Board for Propaganda Against the Enemy, which met regularly under Lord Northcliffe’s direction. Lord Northcliffe (Alfred Charles Williams Harmsworth) directed British propaganda in enemy countries.
  6. Printed from an unsigned copy.