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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty

This is a collection of declassified documents pertaining to Radio Free Europe (RFE) and Radio Liberty (RL) – Radios which were overseen and funded by the Central Intelligence Agency until 1971, funded there after by open Congressional appropriation, and merged in 1976 as RFE/RL, Inc. The documents were used as primary sources for A. Ross Johnson's book ''Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond'' or published in the appendix of ''Cold War Broadcasting: Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe'' edited by A. Ross Johnson and R. Eugene Parta. See also CWIHP e-Dossier No. 32 and e-Dossier No. 59 for introductions to the documents, and the related collections Intelligence Operations in the Cold War, and Mass Media and Censorship. (Image, RFE broadcaster Nowak-Jezioraski, 1952)

  • April 30, 1948

    George F. Kennan, 'The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare' [Redacted Version]

    State Department Policy Planning Director George Kennan outlines, in a document for the National Security Council, the idea of a public committee, working closely with the US government, to sponsor various émigré activities

  • April 30, 1948

    George F. Kennan, 'The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare'

    State Department Policy Planning Director George Kennan outlines, in a document for the National Security Council, the idea of a public committee, working closely with the US government, to sponsor various émigré activities.

  • August 26, 1948

    Memorandum of Conversation [Approved for Release, March 2009]

    CIA, State Department, Defense Department, and OPC officials discuss establishing a philanthropic organization to sponsor radio broadcasts and other activities of Eastern European émigrés.

  • October 14, 1948

    Draft Charter of Committee to Support Émigré Broadcasting [Approved for Release, February 16, 2011]

    Draft charter for an émigré-support committee, prepared by the Office of Policy Coordination official Maynard Ruddock

  • February 21, 1949

    Memorandum for Mr. Wisner, 'Notes on Discussion of New York Committee with Mr. George Kennan, February 18, 1949' [Approved for Release, March 2009]

    George Kennan, State Department official Llewellyn E. Thompson, and Office of Policy Coordination director Frank Wisner agree that influential private citizens organizing the Free Europe Committee (FEC) require approval for the project from Secretary of State Dean Acheson and thereafter responsibility for dealing with East European émigré leaders will shift from State to the FEC.

  • April 19, 1949

    Memorandum of Conversation with Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 10:00 am, Monday, 4 April 1949 [Approved for Release, March 2009]

    Frank Wisner and Free Europe Committee (FEC) president DeWitt C. Poole brief FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on the FEC project to secure his concurrence and assure him of coordination with the FBI on émigré contacts.

  • May 03, 1949

    Utilization of Russian Political Refugees in Germany and Austria [Approved for Release, February 16, 2011]

    Soviet expert Robert F. Kelley urges forming a central organization representing Russian émigré groups and providing it with radio facilities to reach the Soviet Union and Soviet armed forces in Eastern Europe.

  • August 01, 1949

    Letter, Frank Wisner to DeWitte Pool [Approved for Release May 6, 2019]

    Frank Wisner counsels FEC executive secretary DeWitte Poole that the FEC, private but largely government funded, should consult closely with OPC and the State Department on issues of policy, budget, and personnel vetting.

  • September 13, 1949

    Memorandum from Frank G. Wisner to [withheld], 'Policy Directive Governing Organization of Russian Refugees in Germany and Austria' [Approved for Release, March 2009]

    George Kennan authorizes Frank Wisner to proceed with a central Russian émigré organization initially focused on émigré welfare and subject to US government policy guidance. Wisner directs Office of Policy Coordination staff in a cover memorandum to proceed with the project.

  • October 04, 1949

    Outline of the Understanding between Office of the Policy Coordination and National Committee for Free Europe [Approved for Release, February 16, 2011]

    This seminal document reaffirms the mission of the Free Europe Committee (FEC) and outlines the respective authorities and responsibilities of OPC, as agent for the US government, and the FEC, “autonomous… with due regard for the source of its funds.”

  • November 01, 1949

    Memorandum for Mr. Wisner, 'HCFE Broadcasting (Interim Report)' [Approved for Release, November 7, 2012]

    An official from the Department of State, the Office of Policy Coordination updates Frank Wisner on possibilities for providing the Free Europe Committee (FEC) with intelligence reports for use in planned Radio Free Europe broadcasts. He also suggests that Foreign Broadcast Information Bureau monitoring reports of Soviet bloc media can be provided, but only in English translations.

  • March 16, 1950

    Memorandum for Mr. Horace Nickels, 'Support for Radio Broadcasting Program to Satellite Nations' [Approved for Release, March 2009]

    Office of Policy Coordination requests information – negative and positive – from the State Department on conditions in Eastern Europe that could be used in Radio Free Europe broadcasts.

  • April 26, 1950

    Recommendations on Utilization of the Russian Emigration [Approved for Release, February 16, 2011]

    Robert F. Kelley expands the recommendation of his May 3, 1949 memorandum ["Kelley Memorandum on Utilization of Russian Political Émigrés"] that the Office of Policy Coordination encourage the “existing striving of the Russian émigrés to create a central unifying organization” that would organize broadcast to the Soviet Union and be supported through a Free Europe Committee-llike committee in the United States. A longer version document of the same date, “Survey of Russian Emigration,” is available in the Kelley Papers.

  • May 05, 1950

    Letter to DeWitt C. Poole, National Committee for Free Europe, Inc. [Approved for Release, February 16, 2011]

    The Office of Policy Coordination provides the Free Europe Committee with State Department policy guidance dated April 26, 1950, calling for a range of diplomatic and information initiatives, including use of émigrés, but cautioning that broadcasts “should not promise imminent liberation or encourage active revolt.” The quoted phrase was added to the initial guidance dated April 11 and published in FRUS, 1950, IV, 14-17

  • July 26, 1950

    State Department Office of Policy Coordination Memorandum, 'Considerations in Choosing the Members and Executive Secretary for the Cinderella Cover Committee' [Declassified September 19, 2016]

    An OPC official, drawing negative lessons from Free Europe Committee autonomy, argues that AMCOMLIB (cryptonym Cinderella) should be a pure front and not be allowed the autonomy gained by the FEC.

  • August 10, 1950

    Office of Policy Coordination Provides Propaganda Themes for Radio Free Europe

    The Office of Policy Coordination provides the Free Europe Committee with four suggested propaganda themes for RFE broadcasts.

  • August 21, 1950

    Office of Policy Coordination and Kennan Discussion of the American Committee for Liberation

    Frank Wisner solicits George Kennan’s suggestions on the organization of AMCOMLIB (cryptonym Cinderella) and the composition of its board of directors.

  • October 19, 1950

    Policy Planning Staff View of Exile National Councils

    State Department Policy Planning official Robert Joyce laments to Frank Wisner disarray among the national councils and suggests redoubled efforts to unify them. Check copy and redactions.

  • November 22, 1950

    Wisner Update on Radio Free Europe

    Frank Wisner reviews RFE broadcasting after 5 months and notes a shift from use of exile leaders “of questionable current value” to “timely news items and commentary.” He foreshadows expansion of broadcast hours and shift of program production to West Germany.

  • January 11, 1951

    Radio Free Europe Budget Increase Approved

    Allen Dulles (who has joined CIA as Deputy Director for Plans) informs Frank Wisner that CIA has approved RFE’s capital budget for new transmitters.