103.9166/9–345: Telegram

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

3156. With the announcement that the foreign program of Office of War Information is to pass to Dept’s control in near future,40 I feel I should express my opinion about importance of the work in Soviet Union which OWI has been performing.

With my arrival in Moscow 2 years ago OWI has had a small staff attached to the Embassy. This is the first time Soviet Government has permitted an American organization to present the picture of America directly to the Russian people and to supply information to Soviet publications. I am impressed with the fact that the tremendous interest of Russian people in our country is a powerful asset in our future relations with Soviet Government.

OWI section of my Embassy has been exploring virgin territory with increasingly gratifying results. Contacts with different Soviet organizations are expanding with increasing opportunities to exchange books and technical information and to organize exhibitions of American material of special interest in Moscow and other cities. If handled with understanding, these opportunities for disseminating information about the US can be expanded. OWI magazine America is only American magazine other than technical publications permitted distribution in Soviet Union41 and, therefore, does not compete [Page 881] with private publications. I feel it important that there be no break in carrying on the present program. It is difficult to get high level Soviet approval of programs of this character but when once approved, we find those involved on an operational level are much interested to cooperate in the work.

In the Soviet Union more than any other country there is a minimum of opportunity for the people to get information about America unless such a program is organized and stimulated through government channels and our private organizations are given assistance. I feel it would be useful if Colonel Phillips,42 OWI representative here, should return to Washington for consultation with the Dept when Dept is formulating its information program for Soviet Union and adjusting it from wartime to peacetime needs. Meantime I hope it may be possible to continue present program without interruption.

At this time I wish to express my appreciation of the competent cooperation and work of the OWI staff in Washington and New York.43

  1. President Truman’s statement, August 31, and Executive Order 9608, of the same date, are printed in Department of State Bulletin, September 2, 1945, pp. 306–307.
  2. Ambassador Harriman had made strenuous efforts to obtain consent for publication in the Soviet Union of a magazine to be called America (Amerika), and on March 25, 1944, the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Molotov, had written Mr. Harriman agreeing to a bimonthly illustrated magazine. By October 1945 the first two issues were distributed in the Soviet Union on an irregular basis and undated.
  3. Col. Joseph B. Phillips, on military leave from Newsweek Magazine, was a special assistant to Ambassador Harriman.
  4. The Department replied in telegram 1981, September 8, 1945, 1 p.m., that it would give the recommendations every consideration in its plans for an information program on a continuing basis (103.9166/9–345).