70. Memorandum From the Assistant Director, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, United States Information Agency (Davies) to the Director (Marks)1


  • Increasing Evidence of Soviet and Eastern European Concern at the Impact of Western Propaganda

The Soviet and Eastern European press and other public media are currently revealing clear evidence of concern on the part of the Communist leadership at the impact of Western propaganda on their peoples. American propaganda, especially, is singled out for analysis and attack and youth is indicated as the age group which has succumbed most to it.

The concern is revealed in a coordinated program of ideological indoctrination which features an expose of what is termed “the Western ideological offensive.” This “offensive” is alleged to be coordinated [Page 202] through a “special office in NATO.” The American effort is largely attributed to CIA and to its “close associate”, USIA, which is said to play the major overt role. The ideological indoctrination effort itself is marshalled under the slogan, “The Leninist principle of peaceful coexistence does not permit coexistence in the sphere of ideology.” Many of the articles, which are very similar in content and direction, give statistical information on USIA’s budget and personnel. Their attacks extend to all of the USIA media.

Some examples are:

1. In a speech of December 29, 1965, which was featured in the Union of Communist Youth organ, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Soviet Komsomol leader Sergei Pavlov attacked U.S. exhibits and cultural-exchange visits as two activities “promoting ideological confusion and disaffection” among Soviet youth.

2. Nova Mysl, a Czechoslovak Communist Party publication, also laments the effectiveness of the appeal of Western propaganda to the youth. In attacking Western radio broadcasts, the article states: “The enemy . . . knows that young people like music, especially hot music. Therefore, he sets about influencing young people with the help of music, attracting them to foreign broadcasts and leading them away from public and political life.”

3. A Hungarian daily from the county of Nograd also attacks VOA and RFE use of music to appeal to the youth and to entice them into listening to the brief propaganda pitches which are interspersed throughout the musical programs. It says that USIA has, “. . . in 106 countries, 239 independent offices, 182 libraries, 79 reading rooms, and 154 information centers, which help in the psychological warfare. Great efforts are made by the USIA to influence public opinion in the socialist countries.”

4. The new Hungarian youth magazine, Ifusagi Magazin, in its December, 1965, issue credits President Johnson himself with advancing this method of reaching youth. He is quoted as having said, in a session with RFE, “We must get close to the politically immature, backward strata. To those who like music, the text of the news items will also appeal. We must exert an emotional, intellectual, and physical influence on them. The pieces of music on the program should be catchy and flattering to the ear. Young people like to hear such music . . . . . At least twenty out of a hundred will listen in to the political programs too.”

5. An issue of the Czechoslovak Party biweekly, Zivot Strany, in November, 1965, states: “The crux of the new [American]2 tactical [Page 203] concept lies in the ideological sphere. Its chief goal and purpose is the creation of favorable conditions for the penetration of anti-Communist propaganda into the socialist countries. This is the source of the efforts of imperialist propaganda to make maximum use of all existing channels to infiltrate into the socialist countries through the press, radio, tourist traffic, cultural relations, film festivals, international congresses, expositions, fairs, etc., and to increase the number of these channels through international agreements on cultural relations, having as their aim, among other things, more widespread sales of Western press and literature, permission to set up information centers in our countries, etc.”

6. The current issue of the Czechoslovak Party ideological monthly, Nova Mysl, attacks Western efforts to conduct surveys, noting that “. . . in the past year, they have been trying to analyze the various social strata of the Czechoslovak population, with the aim of beaming their broadcasts to those layers which they deem the most receptive. The United States Information Agency has even complained bitterly that in Czechoslovakia it has no opportunity to carry out surveys of listeners.” The article goes on to say that “Contests among listeners are of special significance. . . . The objectives of these inquiries are multiple: to ascertain the geographical distribution of listeners, to promote interest in the broadcasts by utilizing answers supplied by respondents, to make use of the winners, and to enhance confidence.

“An inseparable part of the arsenal is an endeavor to be cordial, jovial, and sensitive to simple, everyday human interests. An effort is exerted to surround the broadcasts with a legal atmosphere by inviting before the microphone Czechoslovak citizens on visits in the capitalist countries.”

7. Writing in the Polish military organ, Zolnierz Wolnosci of January 5, 1966, General Gregorz Korczynski states: “Particularly intensive and systematic is imperialism’s activity aimed at the so-called softening of the population of the socialist countries in order to disarm at least some of the people morally and politically. . . . . This activity, conducted in the framework of so-called psychological warfare, constitutes one of the basic methods applied by the imperialist camp in the ideological and political struggle against the forces of socialism.”

Comment: These articles give one a feel for the current thinking of the Communist leadership of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. They constitute not only evidence of effectiveness, but also provide a clue to what we are up against in trying to move ahead on renegotiation [Page 204] of cultural-exchange agreements with the Soviet Union and Rumania, as well as in trying to carry on and expand our program elsewhere in the area.

We in IAS have long felt that the war in Viet-nam, so often cited by Soviet and Eastern European authorities as the reason why cultural-exchange events could not be agreed to, was more a pretext than the real motivation. The recent increase in published evidence of Communist concern at the effectiveness of Western information and exchange activities appears to bear out this belief.

IASR. T. Davies3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1963–1967, Entry UD WW 101, Box 3, Field—Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 1966. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Littell and Sharek. Copies were sent to Akers, IOP, IAE, IBS, ICS, IRS, IMV, IPS, S/AL, EUR, EUR/SES, EUR/EE, EUR/SOV, INR, and Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna, Vienna for SPO, Warsaw, Sofia, Prague, and Moscow.
  2. Brackets are in the original.
  3. Davies signed “Dick” above this typed signature.