124.616/415: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State


568. Personal for the Acting Secretary. Your No. 314, February 16, 6 p.m.73 I have studied your personal cable to me on the subject of the N[ew] Y[ork] Times article of February 13 regarding the reprint in the Embassy Bulletin of the Washington Post editorial regarding Korneichuk’s appointment as Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Ukraine.

. . . . . . .

Many of the heads of foreign missions have talked with me about the Soviet press and the reactions abroad. I can report that all of them are concerned over the Soviet press and not the American press. No criticism of the American press or our bulletin has come to the attention of any member of the Embassy from any other source.

As to the reaction of “Soviet circles” none of us has any information. I am quite certain, however, that the Soviet Government would much prefer to have us run a propaganda sheet for them, omitting all critical comment on Soviet policies. I am satisfied, however, that American interests are well served by the bulletin.

Now as [regards?] the bulletin I personally take full responsibility for it and the selection of its circulation. Its circulation is limited to the diplomatic corps, the British American press and the Foreign Office. I watch the reaction with great care. Almost every chief of mission and correspondent in Moscow has gone out of his way to express to me repeatedly his appreciation for the cross section of news and comment which the bulletin provides never before available in Moscow. These men have been impressed with the fairness of the selection which includes favorable as well as critical articles on the Soviet Government and similar comment on the American Government’s policies and officials.

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In the first place it has kept the diplomatic corps informed of American reactions and I have reason to believe that those individuals, who have more intimate personal relations with Soviet officials and editors than we, have discussed with them the mistake that is being made by the Soviet Government in its press.

Secondly the American correspondents tell me that the bulletin gives them for the first time a knowledge of what is going on in America which helps them in the selection and manner in which they report things from here. It has had a sobering influence and has encouraged more explanatory articles on certain Soviet actions which are misunderstood in the United States.

Thirdly I believe it is of value to get to Soviet officials information of the American reaction to what they say and do. Undoubtedly the Soviets are critical of the American press and the fact that the bulletin reprints criticism of the Soviet Government. I have expected that their attitude would find indirect expression in the press and this may continue. On the other hand the bulletin is useful to back up what I am telling them and I am satisfied that I am not injuring but strengthening my effectiveness by its circulation.

As to the OWI74 I feel that it has done an excellent job in the selection of material and I wish to record my appreciation for it. I fully realize that it is my responsibility for decision as to what of their material is used in the bulletin.

Lastly as to whether the Post editorial was proper to reprint there is something to be said on both sides. It pointed [out?] Korneichuk’s wife’s75 connections and the influence that this might have on issues vital to many people. It was the only material we had which gave American reaction to Korneichuk’s selection for this important post. It did it, however, in an undignified manner but it certainly was not “vile”. Incidentally I received only yesterday a most cordial letter from him in connection with his leaving Moscow to assume his new post.

To sum up, as far as Moscow is concerned I do not believe the Department need have concern at the present time over the bulletin or the reprint of this editorial. So far as I know the only effect of this incident in Moscow is that Parker’s reputation as an objective journalist has suffered.76 I am, of course, not familiar with the reaction in the United States.

  1. The omitted portion commented upon the article in the New York Times of February 13, 1944, which was based upon a despatch from Ralph Parker, British correspondent in Moscow for the (London) Times and part-time correspondent for the New York Times.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Office of War Information.
  4. Wanda Lvovna Wasilewska was head of the Soviet-sponsored Union of Polish Patriots and, after July 21, 1944, a Vice Chairman of the Polish Committee of National Liberation (the Lublin Committee).
  5. In closing out this incident Ambassador Harriman commented in telegram 676 of February 29, that newspapermen believed Parker had expressed “his own resentment against the American press for criticizing the Soviet Government’s policies” but that “no one in the Foreign Office has given any intimation of their criticism”. (124.616/418)