160. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to President Johnson1

It has become apparent that the Russians have started a campaign directed against the USIA, accusing it of attempting to undermine the 50th Anniversary celebration of the founding of the Soviet Union, scheduled for October 1967.

There have been a series of articles in Pravda, Izvestiya and various youth publications which follow a similar line. The accusations also involve the State Department, CIA, Department of Defense and the President. The following quotation will illustrate the nature of the charge:

“The basic points in the American program of preparation for the USSR anniversary in general can be expressed in three points:

“1. Discreditation of Soviet foreign policy,

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“2. The undermining of the unity of the Socialist countries thereby creating the political isolation of the USSR,

“3. Discreditation of the political and economic system of the USSR.

“So, this time USIA has switched to our holiday. Among its projects that are being carried out are: conferences, symposia, sessions, question and answer periods, and seminars in anti-Soviet centers at the major universities in America. In particular, we are talking about Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and other universities.”

Soviet publications contend that:

“. . . And the entire movement is supervised by the coordinating committee on the general direction of psychological warfare under the direct command of the President of the USIA.”

Linked with this attack are references to the publication of a book by Svetlana Stalin to be published in October by Harper and Row.2

With reference to the Stalin book, Arthur Schlesinger recently wrote me suggesting that the publication be deferred until 1968 to avoid a conflict with the 50th Anniversary celebrations.3

I anticipate that future Soviet propaganda will attempt to link USIA to the book and accuse us of having it published to discredit the Anniversary. Incidentally, it is a common Soviet practice to accuse someone else of motives and tactics which they constantly employ.

The USIA has had no connection with this publication. We will not interfere with its contents, publication or method of distribution. No reply will be made to the Schlesinger letter.

Leonard H. Marks4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1967–1967, Entry UD WW 108, Box 4, Field—Soviet Union & Eastern Europe (IAS) 1967. Confidential. Drafted by Marks.
  2. Reference is to the daughter of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and to her book Twenty Letters to a Friend, which was published on October 2 by Harper & Row.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature. A notation in an unknown hand below the typed signature reads: “Note: Ltr to President sealed in front office & given to I/S for delivery.”