54. Report by the Operations Coordinating Board to the National Security Council 1

PROGRESS REPORT ON U.S. POLICY TOWARD SOVIET BLOC ESCAPEES (NSC 86/1—U.S. Policy on Soviet and Satellite Defectors)2

(Policy Approved by the President April 19, 1951)

(Period Covered: December 17, 1954 through April 18, 1956)

A. Listing of Major Developments During the Period

Soviet Campaign on Demoralization. During the period covered the Soviet bloc launched a campaign to demoralize anti-communist escapees and to induce them to return to Soviet-controlled territory. On April 13, 1955 the OCB initiated a program to counter the Soviet effort, calling for (a) increased material assistance to escapees, (b) a propaganda counter-offensive, and (c) protection and security of the émigrés
Austrian Policy of Asylum. An article proposed by the USSR for inclusion in the Austrian Treaty which would have jeopardized a large number (upward of 35,000) of Soviet orbit refugees in Austria was successfully opposed, thus continuing asylum and care for escapees in Austria.
Refugee Relief Program.3 By April 13, 1956 the Refugee Relief Program had issued 13,131 visas to former Soviet orbit nationals, 7,531 of whom had actually reached the United States. Priority was given to cases presented by the U.S. Escapee Program which had produced 12,673 assurances of employment up to March 1, 1956 under an expanded assurance search project.
Yugoslav Refugees. On April 13, 1955 the OCB approved a recommendation to limit assistance to Yugoslav refugees to 15 per cent of the total budget of USEP, replacing an earlier limitation of 20 per cent of the total number of new arrivals accepted by the Escapee Program.
Resettlement. By March 1, 1956, 9,327 persons were resettled by the Escapee Program, excluding the Far East, and the caseload increased from 28,647 in December 1954 to 29,705 on March 1, 1956. Further assistance has been rendered to USSR nationals in recognition of their importance to U.S. objectives and a limited program of assistance was conducted in the Far East.
Lodge Act.4 Since its inception in June 1950, 976 enlistments have been accepted by the Alien Enlistee Program under the Lodge Act, and the program has received some exploitation by information media.
OCB Review of Assistance Programs. A report was considered by OCB on April 18, 1956 concerning programs of assistance in behalf of refugees and escapees of interest under NSC 86/1.5 The OCB concurred in courses of action to obtain greater efforts by friendly foreign governments and inter-governmental organizations, priority attention to iron curtain escapees under the Refugee Relief Program, and increased use of surplus agricultural commodities and counterpart funds in refugee programs. The courses of action further provide that the U.S. Escapee Program (State) be continued under present policy directives to provide supplemental assistance, that consideration be given by the Department of State to establishment of a central point for refugee matters, and that a high-level public statement of continuing U.S. interest in the refugee problem be made at the first propitious moment. The Report on Assistance Programs is attached to this Progress Report for information of the NSC.
Information Programs. U.S. Information programs have placed emphasis on U.S. concern for welfare of escapees and the captive peoples in the Soviet orbit. More particularly, these programs have sought to encourage defection of Soviet and key satellite nationals, to assure escapees that they can live a constructive life in the free world, and to exploit the fact of escape to spread disaffection within the Soviet bloc.

B. Summary Statement of Operating Progress in Relation to Major NSC Objectives

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Operating Progress. U.S. programs concerning escapees and defectors have made a continuing contribution toward achievement of general U.S. objectives with respect to the USSR. . . .
Continuing Basic Validity of Policy. Basic U.S. policy and objectives concerning Soviet and satellite defectors as set out in Paragraphs 1 through 6 of NSC 86/1 continue to be valid in the light of the current world situation and despite the fact that there have been numerous significant developments since the acceptance of NSC 86/1 in April 1951. The intensity of the Soviet anti-emigration campaign evidences the sensitivity of Soviet leaders to the U.S. policy regarding defectors and escapees. The policies in NSC 86/1 have been reviewed and found to conform with the basic national security policies in NSC 5602/1.6
Soviet Counter Action. While the above holds true, the Soviet anti-emigration campaign, which in part is a counter measure to NSC 86/1, has been carefully calculated to challenge the ability of the United States to achieve its objectives under NSC 86/1 by exploiting the main weaknesses in the Western position, namely, (a) the limiting of the extension of asylum and the low standard of assistance to refugees in practice in certain areas; (b) unsatisfactory and demoralizing status of some earlier Soviet bloc refugees; and (c) uncertainty among refugees about the constancy of Western interest and support in the light of current East-West political developments.

C. Major Problems or Areas of Difficulty

Soviet Bloc Efforts to Demoralize the Emigration. In apparent recognition of the damage to Soviet prestige resulting from an articulate anti-communist emigration and their activities in such organizations as the Voice of America, Committee for Free Europe, Radio Liberation, and the U.S. Escapee Program, Soviet bloc countries have launched a far-reaching program against the escapees. This campaign has included radio broadcasts, publications, personal appeals, chain letters, formal proclamations of amnesty, and isolated examples of personal violence against important individual escapees. The results have been a lowering of morale among escapees, the actual return and subsequent communist exploitation of some, and a decrease in willingness to cooperate in U.S. informational and political programs.
Sovereignty of Germany and Austria. The regaining of sovereignty by Germany and Austria and the latter’s neutrality status may pose serious problems for the continuation of U.S. Escapee Program operations. In order to assure continuation of USEP activities in Austria the program has been directed to discontinue (1) exploitation of [Page 152] assistance, and (2) support of debriefing centers. It is believed that apprehension in some quarters that operations of the program in Germany may have to be curtailed can largely be discounted in view of Germany’s liberal asylum policy and its economic well-being.
Escapees in Yugoslavia. A problem was posed during the period under review by the presence in Yugoslavia of satellite refugees (approximately 1,000) who desire to emigrate to the West and whose departure has been insisted upon by the Tito regime. U.S. efforts have resulted in some relaxation of pressure by the Yugoslav Government, and permission for limited, essential screening there. Italy has received 250 of these refugees for onward resettlement elsewhere, and arrangements are currently being made for the transfer on a transient basis of about 860 additional refugees to France, Greece and Belgium. These operations are largely at U.S. expense. As far as is known, the successful completion of the movement of these refugees from Yugoslavia will take care of all those who have officially declared themselves for resettlement in the West. It is anticipated that asylum will be arranged eventually for all of these people in free world countries.
The Refugee Relief Act. Although the rate of resettlement of former Soviet bloc nationals in the U.S. under the RRA has increased rapidly owing to intensified efforts to find assurances of employment, passage of amendments to the Refugee Relief Act as recommended by the President would be required for a further rise in the volume of escapee entries.
Effects of Soviet “Relaxation of Tensions”. Any show of friendliness between Soviet and free world leaders is likely to have a dampening effect upon the morale of escapees and upon their activities. Although U.S. programs will take this intangible factor into consideration, additional high-level statements may be required in the U.S. and other free world countries to meet future developments.

[Here follows a financial annex.]

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 86 Series. Secret. Concurred in by the OCB on April 18 for transmission to the NSC, according to an attached memorandum from Staats to Lay, April 26.
  2. This report concerns all U.S. activities under NSC 86/1, except those concerning “defectors” under NSCID 13 and 14 under the purview of the IAC agencies. [Footnote in the source text. National Security Council Intelligence Directive 13, January 19, 1950, “Exploitation of Soviet and Satellite Defectors Outside the United States,” and NSCID 14, March 3, 1950, “Exploitation of Defectors and Other Citizens within the United States,” are ibid., S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95.]
  3. See footnote 6, Document 35.
  4. The Alien Enlistment Act, PL. 597 (64 Stat 316), approved June 30, 1950.
  5. Attached to the source text, but not printed.
  6. For text of NSC 5602/1, “Basic National Security Policy,” March 15, see vol. XIX, p. 242.