511.66/3–950: Telegram

The Minister in Romania (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State


167. Urtel 72, March 7, 3 p. m.1 We are most mindful of publicity angle of USIS affair and urge for present publicity be kept on plane established by our note regarding free flow information and cultural interchange and Soviet-Communist obstruction. We believe sharp and detailed comparison between activities of cultural and information nature carried on in Washington by Rumanian Legation and those of USIS in Bucharest showing Rumanians have objected to what they themselves are doing is most profitable approach at this time.

Reference publicity on disappearances, arrests and intimidation of local staff, we urge greatest restraint on this phase. Such publicity may [Page 1055] be premature in view of bare possibility one or other of employees who have disappeared may be detained only briefly, questioned and released. Even excluding this possibility, we believe such publicity would worsen situation of employees directly involved, imperil safety of their families and adversely affect situation of remaining employees. We are convinced it would have no deterrent effect with regard to Rumanian maltreatment of local staff. On contrary, any action which reveals persons themselves or relatives have turned to us, merely brings down upon them added reprisals. Hostage system is one of favorite devices here and is unhesitatingly used and with dire effect.

Some Rumanian staff members have in fact asked that no publicity be given to arrests for sake of treatment accorded those in prison and their familities and their own security. They have pointed out only harm can come to them since we cannot follow through on our protests.

Majority of our employees are still free and revelation of any information that we have received from them regarding their experiences with police can only destroy relations of confidence. While we shall, of course, continue to report fully on all such developments it is belived that for present there is more to lose than to gain by such publicity.2

  1. Telegram 144, March 4, from Bucharest, not printed, reported that three Romanian employees of the USIS office in Bucharest had disappeared on March 3 and were presumed to be under arrest (511.66/3–450). Telegram 72, to Bucharest, under reference here, not printed, stated that the Department of State desired to publicize the disappearances, arrests, and intimidation of the local staff of the Legation in Bucharest as an example of the terroristic measures and extremes of the anti-American program of a Communist state, and also as a measure for vitiating any fabricated evidence which might be adduced in likely forthcoming efforts to compromise the Legation (511.66/3–650).
  2. In his telegram 219, March 27, from Bucharest, not printed, Minister Schoenfeld reported that during a call upon Romanian Foreign Minister Ana Pauker he had taken up the question of the disappearance of the three Romanian employees of the USIS office. Schoenfeld assured the Foreign Minister that the activities of the three employees had been entirely innocent and above-board. The Foreign Minister indicated a disposition to look into the matter but made no definite commitment (511.66/3–2750).