March 16, 2015

1943. Moscow's Goodwill Banquet

The First Anniversary of the 20-Year British-Soviet Friendship Pact
May 1943: Former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph Davies at the Kremlin with Joseph Stalin in Moscow (source)
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military security or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

May 25, 1943

The Soviet government is taking special care to observe the first year anniversary tomorrow of the signing of the twenty-year pact of friendship and cooperation with Great Britain. Mr. Molotov is giving a luncheon for the British and American diplomatic corps and military missions. The Anglo-American press will be entertained at a tea to be given by the Foreign Office press department.

These commemorative gatherings form a new high in Soviet diplomatic life. Right before last, there was a big banquet at the Kremlin for former ambassador Joseph Davies. It also was an Anglo-American affair.

(The first anniversary luncheon and tea to commemorate the British-Soviet pact is more evidence that Russia is going out of her way to signify her willingness to gain the complete and utter confidence of her allies. It is a good sign.)

Tonight I went to a concert of English music given in the Moscow conservatory of music. (The concert was organized by the All-Union society of cultural relations abroad. Five British compositions were played, some of them for the first time in the Soviet Union.) It was a cultural tribute of friendliness to the Allies. (The famous Russian composer, Shostakovich, arranged some Scottish and English folk songs for the occasion, which is an indication as to the importance which the Russian intelligentsia attaches to cultural relations with the Allies).

In this connection, Admiral Standley, the American ambassador, is sponsoring a big drive to widen cultural relations between Russia and the United States. When he returned from Washington this winter he brought Lieutenant Commander John S. Young, publicity director for the New York World's Fair, to take care of Soviet demands for American films, books, and music. The Admiral brought back micro-filmed copies of the latest American music, from the latest dance arrangements to modern American symphonies.

In one month the Soviet film committee has taken nineteen different American newsreel shots for inclusion in the regular Russian newsreels. (The Soviet government also has bought for late American feature films which will be released shortly.)

(British representatives in this country also have special men detailed to distribute films, books, and music to the Soviet Union.)

Although these things might seem insignificant compared to the war, they are of extreme importance.

They represent an exchange of ideas—not between governments, but between peoples. Neither America, Britain, nor the Soviet Union is trying to impose ideas in this campaign for better cultural relations. That's what got Germany into trouble.

If there is one thing that this war has proved, it is that it's much better to exchange ideas than it is to exchange bullets.