511.6121/1–1850: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union


59. Dept believes general line of action proposed Embtels 157 and 158, Jan 18, 19501 best approach, subject modifications as herein outlined.

Amb or Counselor in aggressive approach to FonOff shld bring charge that Sov agencies concerned in distribution Amerika mag have failed achieve efficient distribution.2

Using Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga Dec 31, 1949 letter as starting pointy it shld be stated Amerika is and always has been received with local interest, that there is no evidence of the Sov auths having made it available throughout the nation. As substantiation, Emb may use fact prior to the closing of the Amer ConGen at Vladivostok,3 Amerika [Page 1080] was not seen available for public purchase in that city; similarly, Amer and other visitors to places outside of Moscow have been surprised to note the complete absence of Amerika mag on sale at local outlets comparable with those which display the magazine for sale in Moscow. Other appropriate evidence re this situation available to Emb may be used.

FonOff should be requested to bring about rectification above unsatisfactory circumstances.

In addition, FonOff can be discreetly informed that recent demand for banning Soviet Information Bulletin in US school libraries is symptom of temper US public opinion, which would react strongly to elimination Amerika mag.

Simultaneously but not prior to above approach to FonOff, letter shld be delivered to Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga along following lines, commencing with 1) introduction and 2) quotation contained second and third paras Embtel 158,4 3) inefficiency distribution Amerika mag is apparent from following evidence (as cited in approach to FonOff recommended above) 4) it will be appreciated if the Emb can receive information regarding the data utilized by Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga in arriving at the position taken by it in this matter. Specifically, the Emb will be grateful if Soyuzpechat will be good enough to furnish figures of monthly sales of the magazine during past year, of the per cent of sales outlets (such as kiosks) through which Amerika is regularly offered for sale. (Emb pls note deletion request for info re returns Amerika to Soyuzpechat in 1950.) 5) Emb will appreciate being informed of progress made in development of more efficient distribution system.

As Emb will realize from above, Dept wishes to lift the question immediately to the FonOff level at the same time it is being considered with Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga restricting issue at this moment largely to topic inefficient distribution, and omitting pro tern questions price, specific retaliation and basic agreements re Amerika. Dept views Sov actions as attempt commence attrition process; it seems best place question on plane where Sovs will experience difficulty in justifying administrative obstructions.

Emb authorized its discretion take action as outlined herein.


  1. Not printed; see the second footnote 2, p. 1077.
  2. The Embassy had already informed the Department of suspected trouble with the distribution of Amerika in despatch 786 from Moscow on December 19, 1949; Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, p. 684.
  3. On the closure of this consulate general in 1948, see ibid., 1948, vol. iv, pp. 1024 ff.
  4. The quotation particularly involved was the last paragraph quoted from the letter of December 31, 1949 from Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga as given in telegram 33 from Moscow on January 5, 1950, p. 1077.
  5. Ambassador Kirk reported in telegram 318 from Moscow on January 30, not printed, that the Department’s views on Amerika had been told as instructed by Minister-Counselor Walworth Barbour during a call that day upon Georgy Filippovich Saksin, chief of the United States section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union. Saksin agreed to investigate the matter. (511.6121/1–3050) The letter as outlined to be transmitted to Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga was delivered simultaneously, and its text was sent to the Department in telegram 319 on January 30; not printed. (511.6121/1–3050)