740.0011 LCC/15: Telegram

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

1209. We have today received the following communication from Sir Orme Sargent (this refers to the Department’s 378, January 14, midnight): [Page 1459]

“Thank you for your letter of the eighteenth January about the proposals which were made some time ago for a greater measure of collaboration between the Political Warfare Executive, Office of War Information and the Russians on propaganda matters and the exchange of material for broadcasts, etc.

2. We are very glad to learn that the State Department share our view about the desirability of roping the Russians into Anglo-American propaganda work in Europe. The form which the State Department propose Russian participation should take is two-fold.

First, they propose that the Russians should be invited to participate in the work of the LPC as full members. As you know we had rather hesitated to take this plunge but on further reflection and after consulting our Ambassador in Moscow on his way through London we have decided that this is the right course.

Secondly, the State Department propose that the authority of LPC should be extended to include the drafting of joint Anglo-Russian-American political warfare propaganda plans. We have studied his [this] suggestion carefully, but we feel that this extension of LPC’s work has practical objections which outweigh any of the advantages. The position at present is that joint Anglo-American plans and directives are drawn up, subject to approval by higher authority, by representatives of the Office of War Information and the Political Warfare Executive in London, acting in an executive capacity. The LPC, which sits at irregular intervals only comes into the picture when an emergency arises. Its present membership is not designed to perform the detailed drafting work required for the preparation of weekly political warfare directives. This work would therefore have to continue to be performed as at present, and the State Department’s proposal would merely add an extra cog to the present machinery whereby directives are prepared.

3. If, however, the Russians are invited to participate in the work of LPC as at present constituted, the mission which they would have to send to London for this purpose could easily include personnel whose job it would be to draw up and agree directives with their opposite numbers in the Political Warfare Executive and Office of War Information. We would, of course, welcome the proposal that these directives when agreed between the three executive bodies, subject of course when necessary to the approval of higher authority, should be mandatory.

4. It is possible that the Russians will not feel able to send a mission to London with the necessary executive authority. This, however, should not preclude us from extending the invitation. If the Russians decline the invitation on the grounds that they have not the personnel to spare or for some other reason, then we should put forward as an alternative our original proposal, namely that arrangements should be made for exchanging directives and broadcasting material.

5. When making these proposals to the Russians, I think we shall have to make clear the nature of the work which their executive mission in London and their representatives on LPC will be required to do. The work of the LPC and of the Office of War Information and Political Warfare Executive in occupied Europe is not concerned with ‘information and news.’ Its work is is to use this material in the pursuit of political and operational objectives. The head of the [Page 1460]Russian mission therefore must be someone who has the necessary operational background.

[6.] There is one further point. The Russians will undoubtedly want to discuss covert as well as overt propaganda in Europe. At present this is not dealt with by LPC principally because, although British covert propaganda is dealt with by the Political Warfare Executive, American covert propaganda is dealt with not by OWI but by OSS.12 It may be necessary, therefore, if the Russians agree to participate in our work, to set up a special subcommittee of LPC, on which OSS is represented.

7. To sum up, therefore, we suggest that the following be the lines of our approach to the Russians:—(1) full membership of LPC (2) despatch of an executive mission to London with full powers to participate with their opposite number in OWI and PWE in the preparation of joint Anglo-Russian-American political warfare directives, or failing this (3) if the Russians feel unable to go as far as this, arrangements for the exchange either in London or Moscow of directives and propaganda material (4) emphasis to be laid on the need for sending to London personnel with operational background.

8. I shall be grateful to learn as soon as possible the State Department’s views on these proposals. If they agree, we will then send the necessary instructions to His Majesty’s Ambassador at Moscow.

9. There is just one last point to which I think I ought to draw your attention. Our political warfare work is so concerned with operational matters that I have felt bound to consult the British Chiefs of Staff before sending you this letter. I presume that the State Department will also clear their end with the American Chiefs of Staff.”

Paragraph 3 in numbered paragraph 2 of Sir Orme Sargent’s communication indicates that the British still interpret the Departments proposal to include the drafting of weekly directives in spite of the fact that Sir Orme was informed orally as the result of the Department’s 711, January 28, 11 p.m., that the Department’s idea was that the enlarged Committee will at this stage only work out overall propaganda policy plans.

  1. Office of Strategic Services.