21. Intelligence Report Prepared by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research0

No. 8142



Current Status of Contacts

Since the death of Stalin the Soviet Union has expanded exchanges with the free world countries from virtually zero to a current total of approximately 2,000 exchanges of delegations and over 75,000 tourists visiting the USSR each year. While free world exchanges with the Eastern European satellites have increased, because of the generally pro-Western orientation of their populations, the governments of these countries (with the exception of Poland) have been hesitant in expanding exchanges with the West. Chinese Communist exchanges with the free world are carefully controlled and selected so as to be of maximum usefulness to the regime.

Impact of Contacts

Increased contacts with the free world have introduced some fresh ideas into the thinking of the top Soviet leadership and intelligentsia and have brought the Soviet image of the outside world a little closer to reality. In the European satellites, foreign contacts, though exploited by the regimes, have helped counteract distorted images of the West and have assuaged the popular demand for relief from the effects of Moscow-imposed ideology. The relatively limited exchanges between free world countries and Communist China have done little to lessen antagonism toward and distrust of the free world in general and the US in particular.

Exchanges with the Soviet bloc have been generally supported by the countries of Western Europe, but there is no indication that such contacts have made a deep impression or have modified the basic ideas of the people. In the countries of free Asia the effect of exchanges with the Sino-Soviet bloc has varied. Returning visitors have often been impressed by Communist Chinese “progress,” especially in Indonesia, [Page 51] and by Soviet technological achievements. Others, however, have been critical of communist methods and have been disillusioned by recent aggressive moves by Communist China.

Among the countries of the Middle East, exchanges with the Soviet bloc have aroused interest and curiosity but have resulted in few positive gains for the Soviet side. Emerging African nations have felt flattered by Soviet attentions, and exchanges may have helped create a favorable image of the bloc in the eyes of their people.

The effect of Soviet bloc exchanges upon Near Eastern countries (those which have diplomatic contact with the bloc) has varied widely, ranging from strongly pro-Soviet responses to insignificant and even negative reactions. Here the political orientation of the governments appears to be the determining factor. Soviet bloc propagandists in Latin America have made a good impression upon some student groups and upon artistic and intellectual circles. However, the impressions of non-communist members of delegations traveling to the bloc appear to have been generally negative.1

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, OSSINR Reports. Secret; Noforn. A title page, a table of contents, and the 28-page body of the report are not printed. A note on the cover sheet indicates that the report is not a statement of Departmental policy.
  2. In Intelligence Report No. 8181, “The Impact of Study in the USSR on Free World Students,” December 18, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research further concluded that large numbers of free world exchange students in the Soviet Union, especially those from underdeveloped countries, were “dissatisfied with their conditions of study and disillusioned by Soviet life as they see it” and were returning home “convinced that the Soviet system is not one their country should emulate.” (Ibid.)