15 August 1956** (St 19/2) “Amerika” magazine

Secretariat. Draft letter to Party organizations throughout the USSR concerning  distribution in the Soviet Union of the Russian-language magazine Amerika produced by the US State Department (6 pp). [R 15 August 1956, St 19/2]


[page one of six]


15 August 1956

Draft of Letter to Party Organizations concerning the Dissemination of the
Magazine Amerika in the USSR

To adopt on the whole the submitted draft of the letter. To instruct the Department of Propaganda and Agitation of the CC CPSU throughout the Union republics, taking into account the comments expressed during the meeting of the Secretariat, to edit the draft of the letter.


Sent to: Comrade Konstantinov

[Here: handwritten abbreviated words meaning: “See draft of art. 20, point II, of 21 August 1956”]


[page two]

[In the top right corner is a square stamp containing words and numbers: “CC CPSU, 27409,” a line of indecipherable numbers, except for the year “1956, Subject to return to the _  Department of the CPSU”]
[This square is slightly overlaid on an angle on the left side by a rectangle stating: “SUBMITTED TO THE 2nd SECTOR”]

To the CPSU Central Committee

In accordance with the instruction, we are submitting the draft of the CPSU Central Committee’s letter “On the Dissemination of the Journal America in the USSR.”

Deputy head of the Department of Propaganda and Agitation
of the Central Committee for the Union Republics


(F. Konstantinov)

30 July 1956

[three illegible handwritten words here]


[page three]

Top Secret


On the Dissemination of the Magazine Amerika in the USSR

The CPSU Central Committee is notifying Party organizations that in the nearest future the journal Amerika, published by the US Department of State in the Russian language, will be distributed in the large cities of our country. At the same time, the distribution of the Soviet English-language magazine USSR will begin in the United States of America. The proposal for the exchange of magazines came from the US government.

The reciprocal publication of the American magazine in the Soviet Union and our magazine in the US is a diplomatic measure corresponding to the principles of the policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet government, aimed at easing international tensions.

The distribution of 50,000 copies of the Soviet illustrated monthly magazine in the US (the same number of copies of the magazine America will be distributed in the USSR) will give us the opportunity to have an additional means [for providing] the majority of the US population with a genuine familiarization with the nature of the Soviet social order, with the economic and cultural achievements of the USSR and individual Union republics, to show the way of life of the Soviet people, their labor, and recreation. In this lies the positive importance of the mutual exchange of magazines between the USSR and the US.

But there is another, negative, aspect of this matter. It is crucial to keep in mind that the US authorities will adopt all measures in order to use the magazine America for the propaganda of the so-called “American way” of life,


[page four]


for the unrestrained extolling of the “achievements” of the US in the sphere of economics and culture, and especially in the production of mass consumer goods, in the organization of everyday life, etc. It is clear that this magazine will not shed any light on all the ills and contradictions of the capitalist method of production in the United States (unemployment, discrimination against the Negroes, the ruination of farmers, the rise in crime, the decay of culture, etc.). The publishers of the magazine America will seek in all ways to show that the people of the US, including the workers, live better than the Soviet people. The selection of facts and articles in this magazine will be tendentious, one-sided, and convenient to the ruling circles of the USA.

Considering it crucial to warn the party organizations about this, the CPSU Central Committee directs attention to the fact that the distribution of the magazine Amerika by no means suggests that its contents are endorsed. This is merely a diplomatic act showing our striving toward the establishment of contacts with Western states. Therefore, the dissemination of the magazine should be restricted in all ways. The magazine should not fall into the hands of politically immature people who are not capable of understanding the tendentiousness of its contents. The articles in the magazine America should not be used in propaganda and agitation work, in the print press, and on the radio.

In keeping with the mutual agreement with the American side, five thousand copies of the magazine America will be distributed by subscription approximately in 40 of the largest cities of the country, and the remaining 45 thousand copies will be sold retail in more than 80 cities through the kiosks of Soiuzpechat [Central Agency for Foreign Publications].

The CPSU Central Committee suggests that the Central Committees of the Communist Party of the Union republics, territorial and regional committees, and municipal committees of the Party offer all manner of assistance to the organs of


[page five]


communication in the correct organization of work on the dissemination of the magazine Amerika. A subscription to this magazine should also be carried out in such a way that among its subscribers will be politically literate, ideologically steadfast people. It is recommended that the subscription to the magazine be carried out not in postal divisions but by public distributors of the print press at enterprises and institutions. In the organization of the retail sale of the magazine it is crucial to ensure that it not be sold in kiosks located in places where there are usually large concentrations of people (bazaars, parks, railway stations) but in kiosks at enterprises, institutions, in theaters, on central streets, and only in limited quantities. There is no need to seek the sale of all issues of the magazine. In agreement with the American side, the Soviet organs of communication have the right to return up to half the edition to the magazine publishers if it is not possible to sell it. Party organizations should take care to ensure that an unhealthy situation of speculative purchasing is not created around the distribution of the magazine America.

Of course, some copies of the magazine Amerika will also fall into the hands of inexperienced, politically irresolute readers; undesirable conversations may begin around the articles tendentiously selected and published in it. In order to neutralize the effects of the magazine America, party organizations should ably place counterpropaganda [and] ensure that articles exposing the “American way of life,” “American democracy” are more frequently placed in the print press, on the radio, in reports, lectures, discussions, so that, without references to the magazine America, the figures and facts mentioned in it will be ably refuted. Our propaganda should show that the so-called “American way of life” is far from those pictures that the magazine America will be seeking to depict.


[page six]


The CC CPSU cautions the CCs of the Communist Parties of the Union republics, territorial committees, oblast committees, and municipal committees of the party that the work on restricting the dissemination of the magazine America and refuting the materials published in it should be conducted ably, thoughtfully; this task should be assigned to politically vetted workers. All manner of carelessness in this respect is unacceptable because this will be exploited by the American side for anti-Soviet propaganda and for the restriction of the distribution of the Soviet magazine USSR in the United States.


Translation by Marta D. Olynyk, December 2010

[Translator’s notes are bracketed, handwritten text is italic]