153. Report by the Psychological Strategy Board1

PSB D–47


[Omitted here are a cover page, title page, and table of contents.]

I. Status of the Program on June 30, 1953

1. The Board presents below a brief evaluative summary of the status of our national psychological programs as of June 30, 1953, based largely on the appended Progress Reports by the departments and agencies responsible for operations.


2. While the President’s Committee on International Information Activities studied the whole problem of the world struggle with a view to basic improvements in the U.S. position, the struggle, on the psychological as on other fronts, was conducted with increased vigor. The most far-reaching opportunity came with Stalin’s death. The President’s speech of April 162 was signally successful in capitalizing on the situation by appealing to the new leaders for an era of worldwide peace and friendship. The world at large received the speech with great enthusiasm, and the follow up support through psychological exploitation added to the initial success.

3. Further exploitation of events behind the Iron Curtain has been guided by the requirement that psychological operations must be keyed in with political action. After Stalin’s death, the next major occasion for such action followed the outbreaks in Czechoslovakia and East Germany. Plans and operations were stepped up accordingly, with prospect of conducting a major campaign in the long-range contest to take full advantage of the consequences of Stalin’s death.

4. Outside of the Soviet orbit the developments on the psychological front have been characterized by a disappointing deterioriation [Page 433] in the attitudes towards the U.S. Non-Communist press and public opinion in Western Europe has reflected mounting criticism of U.S. foreign policy (the possible trend back to isolationism), and alleged anti-Communist “hysteria”. These unfavorable attitudes in combination with a generally more receptive reaction among Western European peoples to the Soviet “peace offensive” now constitute an intensification of anti-American feeling among significant elements of European opinion.

5. World opinion has also been markedly unfavorable towards the development of U.S. foreign trade policies. At the same time that we are sharply reducing our programs for economic assistance, it has felt that we are providing little indication that our markets are to be opened up to foreign goods. Congressional criticism of our allies for their practices in the field of East-West trade, in combination with the new Soviet line on expansion of trade with the free world, has begun to have an adverse psychological impact around the world.

6. Urgent planning for stronger psychological measures based on Thailand was set in motion as the result of the invasion of Laos and the accompanying threat of Communist aggression in Southeast Asia.

7. While our overt psychological capabilities have been reduced by personnel difficulties, pressures in the Congress and appropriations cuts, covert capabilities continued to make sound progress, and faster and more energetic teamwork was secured through closer relations with the NSC and the operating agencies.


8. Within the USSR itself, radio still constitutes the only important means used currently to reach the Russian people. Jamming by the Russian radio of our broadcasts continues to present a major problem. There was however, a perceptible increase in effectiveness of our radio resources in the last six months due to the inauguration of Radio Liberation and the stepped-up activity of Radio Free Russia. In addition to the radio, leaflet distribution was utilized to reach Soviet military forces stationed outside the USSR.

9. Similarly, in Communist China, the major psychological activities presently available are radio and leaflet drops. Both of these are being substantially increased. Through Hongkong, increased use is being made of overt, grey and black propaganda channels with the Chinese Mainland.

10. In the European Satellites likewise, radio is our major propaganda communications medium. RIAS, RFE, and VOA have contributed to the building up of pressures that may be instrumental in weakening the Kremlin’s control of the satellites. In most of these Satellite States, progress in other forms of psychological activity, mainly unattributable, has been slow, and has centered on the build-up of operating potential. There [Page 434] has, however, been increased action, including leaflet drops, in certain satellites—notably Albania, Bulgaria, and Rumania.

11. A high degree of access to East Germany was maintained despite increasing Soviet security restriction. Virtually the entire area has been continuously subjected to U.S. psychological programs through mainly indigenous channels.

12. In Western Europe, the presence of U.S. Armed Forces and the Military Aid program provided a significant psychological impact. Increased emphasis on troop acceptance programs enlisting the positive cooperation of the governments and the local authorities has brought about a definite improvement in most areas in the problem of avoiding friction between U.S. military personnel and foreign populations.

13. Among the principal problems that have confronted U.S. psychological efforts in Western Europe during the past six months are increased criticism of the U.S. and, especially since Stalin’s death, the Soviet “Peace Offensive”. It is evident that many, if not all, Western European governments have been influenced to some extent by the Kremlin’s tension-reducing tactics. The effect has been to retard progress toward a number of our objectives, including the build-up of Western defenses, the ratification of EDC, and attainment of European integration.

14. The U.S. counter-offensive has included fullest exploitation by the Department of State’s Information Program of the President’s Inaugural address3 and of his April 16 speech challenging the new leaders of the USSR to prove their peaceful professions by deeds, not words. Copies of the latter were presented to Foreign Offices all over the world in advance of delivery and kinescopes of the entire speech were sent to seventy-three posts within a day of its delivery. One of these was shown over BBC television on April 20 to an estimated audience of 6,000,000. Five million pamphlets, handbills, and leaflets on the speech were prepared and distributed, and a documentary film of it in thirty-five languages had been produced and shipped by May 2.

15. In Italy, U.S. efforts to aid the reelection of the Democratic Center Parties fell considerably short of their objective. The DeGasperi Coalition was returned to office by a slender margin and the Communists and extreme Rightists registered significant gains.

16. In France, the municipal elections in May showed that the Communists had suffered a slight set-back in rural areas, but had maintained their position in the industrial areas in larger cities. Governmental instability was a troublesome factor during the period and a relaxation of earlier French official measures to reduce the power of the Communist Party in France resulted. The repercussions of some Congressional [Page 435] investigations, as well as of the Rosenberg executions, in conjunction with the Kremlin’s peace campaign, appear to have contributed to an increase in neutralism.

17. In the United Kingdom also, there appears to have been a marked increase in neutralism in its special British form of Bevanism. Although the belief is still widely held that Western unity must be preserved, three major elements contribute to the growth of anti-American feeling:

The belief that the U.S. is deeply divided on basic international policies,
The development of the Soviet “peace offensive”, and
The desire to exercise a more positive and independent initiative in international affairs.

18. In West Germany and Berlin, the recent riots touched off greatly increased pressures for unification, complicating the problems of German ratification of the EDC. With this exception, however, U.S. psychological programs in Berlin and West Germany, as well as their projection into East Germany, appear to have been fairly effective in promoting progress toward our major goal of a Democratic Germany integrated into Western defense efforts. Since late March German press opinion has reflected a decline in confidence in U.S. leadership. This was temporarily halted by the President’s April 16 speech, but has since been resumed. The two major factors contributing to this are: (1) the Soviet “peace offensive” and (2) lack of agreement within the U.S. on policy towards Germany.

19. In the Near and Middle East and South Asia, neutralism, and the tendency to associate the U.S. with “colonialism”, continued to present a major obstacle to the attainment of U.S. psychological objectives. In the Arab States, the alleged pro-Israel bias on the part of the U.S. remained a major handicap, although the visits to Middle Eastern capitals by Secretary Dulles and Mr. Stassen may have alleviated this problem, at least temporarily. IIA has continuously exploited the beneficial aspects of these visits in its output to the area. Turkey, Pakistan, and Greece appear to be the brightest spots in this area, psychologically speaking.

20. In the Far East, the resumption of Korean truce talks raised major psychological problems. The exchange of sick and wounded prisoners necessitated special measures to deal with “brain washing”. Steps were taken to achieve more effectively coordinated guidance on information matters concerning Korea through the channels of the Psychological Operations Coordinating Committee. The offer of a reward to MIG pilot defectors was followed by an immediate and significant shift in Communist air tactics over the Korean battle area.

21. In Japan, severe economic problems and growing neutralist resistance to the U.S. objective of Japanese rearmament have been [Page 436] trouble spots in a picture otherwise fairly satisfactory. “Grey” and unattributable activities have progressed favorably.

22. In Latin America, our capabilities for effective psychological action increased in a number of countries, for the most part in the field of unattributable activity. There has been growing dissatisfaction in many Latin American countries directed mainly against American economic policies. To help offset this, a major psychological move was Dr. Milton Eisenhower’s goodwill tour of South America initiated late in June.

Special Items

23. Emergency assistance provided by U.S. Armed Forces in cases of national catastrophe has made material contributions to U.S. psychological efforts in The Netherlands, England, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Ecuador, and Japan.

24. A grant of 1,000,000 tons of wheat to Pakistan has had a similarly favorable effect.

25. Carefully planned exploitation of U.S. leadership in the atomic field, with a coordinated public information program on the Nevada weapons tests and other special weapons, as well as certain news leaks that gave rise to widespread speculation as to the explosion of a thermo-nuclear device at Eniwetok atoll, contributed to the U.S. psychological effort.

[Omitted here are Section II. The Work of PSB; Annex A, Report of the Department of State; Annex B, Report of the Department of Defense; Annex C, Report of the Mutual Security Agency; and Annex D, General Appraisal.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 333, PSB D–47. Top Secret. PSB D–47, a Progress Report by the Psychological Strategy Board, was submitted to the President and the National Security Council on July 29. The title page of the report indicates that it was prepared pursuant to a May 27 memorandum from NSC Executive Secretary Lay to the Acting Director of the Psychological Strategy Board which has not been found. Also on the title page is a note by Charles E. Johnson, Secretary to the Board, indicating that the Board approved the report at its July 29 meeting.
  2. Reference is to President Eisenhower’s “The Chance for Peace” speech; text in Public Papers: Eisenhower, 1953, pp. 179–188.
  3. Ibid., pp. 1–8.