740.0011 European War 1939/32513: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

25. Please refer to paragraph (A) of the Embassy’s 7847 of November 11, 8 p.m.1 This has been the subject of extended correspondence between Carroll and Sherwood, OWI.2 We have now received the following communication from Sir Orme Sargent:3

“You will remember that at the meeting of the London Political Warfare Coordinating Committee4 on the eleventh November last, we considered a memorandum by the Political Warfare Executive5 suggesting greater cooperation between the Political Warfare Executive and the Office of War Information and the Russians on propaganda matters as well as a fuller exchange of material for broadcasts, et cetera. The Political Warfare Executive suggested, further, that the Russians might participate in appropriate directive discussions [Page 1456] in the capacity of observers. Both you7 and Carroll felt that these proposals raised a question of policy and it was agreed that the Office of War Information should refer the matter to the United States Government.

I would be most grateful to know whether the State Department has yet considered the proposal, because, although the Political Warfare Executive’s suggestions were designed in the first place to forestall a Russian request for full participation in the work of the London Political Warfare Coordinating Committee, the advantages in other directions of roping the Russians in seem to us to be of the greatest importance. Unless for instance the Russians take the same line as you and we do in Eastern and South-east Europe, political warfare in those parts is practically impossible, for it is what Russia says that really counts.

A particular case in point is Bulgaria and I wonder whether, quite independent of any decision on the general issues raised in the Political Warfare Executive memorandum, we should not make an approach to the Russians for greater cooperation. A short time ago there was an undoubted crisis in Bulgaria8 which we were quite unable to exploit because of our lack of Bulgarian intelligence. The Russians, however, are still in diplomatic relations with Bulgaria and if we had had access to Russian intelligence about Bulgaria, the position might have been quite different. Again although in our political warfare we exploited the recent bombings of Sofia by the United States Army Air Force, the Russians more or less ignored them, and thereby half the psychological value of these operations was lost. The bombing of Bulgarian targets will continue and with possible developments in Turkey, it is surely most important to secure Russian cooperation in exploiting the situation.

What I have in mind, therefore, is that the Political Warfare Executive and the Office of War Information should jointly instruct their representatives in Moscow to approach their Russian opposite numbers with the suggestion of mutual exchange of material regarding Bulgaria, and the proposal that all three parties should work out either here or in Moscow a line of propaganda as near identical as possible, having due regard to the fact that whereas Great Britain and the United States are at war with Bulgaria, the Soviet Government are not.”

  1. Not printed. Paragraph A concerned the memorandum by the British Political Warfare Executive referred to below. A copy of this memorandum (not printed) is filed under 740.0011 European War 1939/32513.
  2. Wallace Carroll, in London as the representative of the Office of War Information (OWI), and Robert E. Sherwood, Director of Overseas Operations, OWI.


    The Office of War Information was established by Executive Order of June 13, 1942, as successor to the Office of the Coordinator of Information. The Coordinator’s Office was renamed the Office of Strategic Services, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  3. Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the British Foreign Office and Chairman of the London Political Warfare Coordinating Committee.
  4. This committee was formed in the late summer of 1943 to produce maximum Anglo-American coordination in the field of psychological warfare. It was established with representatives from the British Foreign Office (Sargent), the Political Warfare Executive (Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, Deputy Chairman), the British Chiefs of Staff (General Sir Hastings L. Ismay), the Department of State (Howard Bucknell, Jr., Counselor of Embassy at London), the Office of War Information (Carroll), and the United States Chiefs of Staff (Adm. Harold R. Stark). Representatives from other agencies participated at a later date.
  5. Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, the British Government coordinated the activities of the Ministry of Information, the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, and the British Broadcasting Corporation with the creation of the Political Warfare Executive. PWE was made up of representatives from the War Office, the Admiralty, the Foreign Office, and the Ministry of Information.
  6. Howard Bucknell, Jr., Counselor of Embassy.
  7. Sir Orme Sargent’s reference could relate to two series of events. On August 28, 1943, Boris III, Tsar of Bulgaria, died under mysterious circumstances in Sofia immediately after an unsatisfactory interview with Chancellor Hitler. Simeon II, the Tsar’s 6–year-old son, ascended the throne two days later. A series of Cabinet crises ensued marked by an increasing rapprochement with Germany. In mid-November and early December, Sofia suffered devastating air attacks which produced a marked tone of appeasement in the Bulgarian press and in the public statements of Bulgarian political figures.