Memorandum by Mr. Llewellyn E. Thompson, Jr., of the Division of Eastern European Affairs, to the Assistant Secretary of State for European, Far Eastern, Near Eastern, and African Affairs (Dunn)7

Mr. Dunn: This Division heartily agrees with Mr. Armstrong’s observations.8 It has been noted by almost all of our people who have dealt with the Russians that the high Soviet officials who are responsible for the formulation of policy do not appreciate the importance of public opinion in a democracy nor the importance of the press in the formation of public opinion.

Kennan, in a conversation with Lozovski,9 the Soviet Vice Commissar for Foreign Affairs, who is a Foreign Office official responsible for press and propaganda matters, endeavored to impress upon him the importance of having the case of an American broadcaster who had been excluded from broadcasting from the Soviet Union handled in such a way as to cause as little disturbance to public opinion as possible. Lozovski replied to the effect that the Soviet Union was a great power and did not have to concern itself with sensibilities of the press.

The Russians appear to believe that our press is largely controlled by big business and that it can to a large extent be ignored. In conversations with Soviet officials, they have frequently pointed to the fact that President Roosevelt continues to be reelected despite the strong opposition of the greater part of the American press, and they tend to draw the inference from this that the press is not important. There are some indications that the Russians are now following a policy of seeing how far they can go politically without breaking down collaboration with the United States and Great Britain. There is great danger that before they reach the point where our Governments will react strongly enough to cause the Russians to realize that they cannot go further, they will have already gone beyond the point where public opinion in the United States and Great Britain will allow further wholehearted collaboration with the Soviet Union.

L[lewellyn] E. T[hompson, Jr.]
  1. Seen by the Acting Secretary of State, Joseph C. Grew.
  2. Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Special Adviser to the Secretary of State, was under instruction to make reports from time to time.
  3. Solomon Abramovich Lozovsky, Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.