711.61/9–1846: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Durbrow ) to the Secretary of State

secret

3503. Paris for Ambassador Smith. Day in day out during past months tom-toms of Soviet propaganda have beat out themes that American and British reactionaries are seeking to foment new war against USSR.45 Purpose of this incessant drumming is to (1) raise and keep alive opposition in USA and Britain to firm policy toward USSR and (2) spur Soviet masses by means of specter of coming war to all out effort on 5-year plan.

This propaganda despite its arrant hypocrisy has apparently been somewhat effective in certain quarters abroad. It has served to excite certain naive and unstable elements in the West to extent that they overlook beam in Soviet eye while denouncing mote in Western eye.

Domestic Soviet reaction, however, is somewhat more complicated. There is no doubt that propaganda line has conjured up widespread fear of new world war. We have received scattered reports indicating this from local sources, from Baltic States, Ukraine, Caucasus, Belo-Russia, and Soviet Far East. Our impression is that while this war talk may have in some measure spurred productive effort and heightened armed forces morale, for most part it has had depressing effect.

Sentiments expressed by average Soviet citizen are those of anxiety and distress over prospects of another war and bewilderment as to why USA and Britain should “want” it. Many say they are so weary they cannot face new conflict. They are anxious to seize any straw of reassurance that our policy is one of peace. We feel these sentiments reflect true attitude of Soviet masses whose emotional and physical exhaustion is a greater factor than is perhaps realized anywhere outside USSR.

Dept please repeat to Nanking and Tokyo.

Durbrow
  1. In the immediately following telegram, No. 3504, September 18, 4 p.m., the Chargé declared: “Growing misapprehension on part of Soviet public that US is seeking to foment world war against USSR underlines importance of our beginning at earliest possible date broadcasting in Russian to Soviet people. As we have often said, radio is only channel through which US can speak daily directly and without censorship to Soviet people.” (711.61/9–1846)