Military Review

"Doctor Zhivago" in the service of the CIA

"Doctor Zhivago" in the service of the CIA

The US secret service during the years of the Cold War contributed to the publication of the novel by Boris Pasternak as propaganda

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States during the Cold War as part of the campaign against communism organized the release of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago novel at the end of the 1950-s and distributed it in the West and among Soviet citizens. This statement was made by American journalist Peter Finn and the Netherlands Slavist Peter Kuve.

In an article in the Washington Post based on their book, The Zhivago Case: The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle for the Prohibited Book, which collects CIA documents and interviews with former and current intelligence officers, they claim that in Washington during the Cold War, Pasternak’s novel was considered one of the tools of propaganda against the USSR. This is evidenced by the 130 declassified documents of the special services concerning the CIA's participation in the publication and distribution of the book. This also applies to the release of the novel in Russian in the Netherlands in the year 1958 and further distribution - both in the West and in the Soviet Union.

According to declassified data, the publication of the book was handled by the Soviet department of the CIA under the direction of the director of the department Allen Dulles. The operation was authorized by the administration of President Eisenhower. The documents prescribe "in no way demonstrate" the involvement of US intelligence services in the publication of the novel.

In total, during the Cold War, the CIA secretly distributed over 10 millions of copies of books and magazines banned in the USSR and Eastern Europe into the territory of Soviet countries. One of them was the novel "Doctor Zhivago."

In 1956, the Soviet "Goslitizdat" refused to release "Doctor Zhivago" for, the CIA documents clarify, "a hidden but critical image of the influence of the Soviet system on the life of a sensitive intellectual." In the same year, Pasternak sent a copy of the manuscript to the Italian publisher and member of the Italian Communist Party, Gianjacomo Feltrinelli, and in November 1957, the novel is published in Milan.

In January, 1958, the leadership of the CIA received a message from the British intelligence services with pictures of the pages of the novel Pasternak. It said that a copy of the work will be sent to the headquarters of US intelligence within a month. The British side expressed hope for its early publication both in the UK and in the USA.

After that, the CIA issued a message in which it recommended all its employees to “distribute the publication as much as possible” in the West, so that Pasternak won recognition and was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

The Office explained that “Doctor Zhivago” carries “the most important propaganda value - not only for its promise and provocation, but also for the circumstances in which it was written: it is possible to make Soviet citizens think about what is wrong with their government, even if it’s good a literary work written by a man who is recognized as one of the greatest living Russian writers cannot be published in his country in his language for his own people. "

In July, 1958, the head of the "Soviet department" of the CIA, John Mori, wrote in one of his memos that "Doctor Zhivago" represents "a direct threat to the worldview that the Kremlin imposes."

“Pasternak’s humanistic message — that everyone has the right to privacy and deserves respect, regardless of his political loyalty or contribution to the state’s work — bears a fundamental challenge to Soviet ethics, which dictates sacrificing an individual in the name of the communist system,” Mori emphasized.

According to the authors of the book, for the first time, the CIA attempted to distribute the Russian-language edition of “Doctor Zhivago” at the World Exhibition in the summer of 1958, in Brussels, where 16 of thousands of USSR citizens arrived. The book was printed in Russian in September 1958 of the year in the Netherlands with the assistance of the local Internal Security Service (BVD). 200 copies of the novel were sent to the headquarters of the CIA, about 450 - to offices in Western Europe. 365 books sent to Brussels.

The Russian emigre Catholics helped spread the CIA novel, placing the publication in a small library of the Vatican Pavilion. Some of the Soviet citizens who received the novel, the authors of the book clarify, tear off the cover, and scatter pages in their pockets.

Cover of the first edition of the novel "Doctor Zhivago." Photo: Cover of the first edition of the novel "Doctor Zhivago."

The CIA recognized the operation as successful. The only problem for them was the refusal of the Dutch publisher to enter into a contract with the copyright holder - Feltrinelli. As a result, the Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago turned out to be illegal, which aroused the interest of the press and gave rise to rumors about involvement in the publication of the CIA book.

In October, Pasternak 1958 won the Nobel Prize. The authorities of the USSR, considering the novel anti-Soviet, attacked the author with criticism. “The worst thing is that Pasternak was a member of the Writers' Union. The WRITER changed the Motherland, ”Sergei Mikhalkov said at the meeting about him.

The Soviet Department of the CIA responded to these events by publishing a paperback edition. John Mori, in a memo, explained that "there was a tremendous demand for romance among students and representatives of the intelligentsia."

This time, the security services decided to print copies at the CIA headquarters, using the first Feltrinelli text and attributing the publication to the fictional Parisian publisher Société d'Edition et d'Impression Mondiale. By July 1959, at least nine thousand copies had been printed.

In 1959, CIA officials distributed two thousand books in Vienna at the World Festival of Youth and Students. In addition to the publication in Russian, there were distributed copies of the novel in Polish, German, Czech, Hungarian and Chinese. According to the authors, Russian emigrants crowded around the buses of the Soviet delegation and threw copies of the novel into the open windows.

In addition to Doctor Zhivago, the CIA distributed 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell and God Who Outdid Hope at the festival (a collection of essays by six writers and journalists who were communists in the past and wrote about how disappointed they were their beliefs).

The English journalist Francis Stonor Saunders, in the book The CIA and the Art World: The Cultural Front of the Cold War, wrote that with the CIA during the Cold War, he actively promoted the American authors Somerset Maugham, Ezra Pound, Howard Hunt.

The secret services financed and took part in the activities of the so-called “Congress for Freedom of Culture”, an anti-Soviet public organization that included poets, historians, intellectuals, writers, and artists.

The Congress supported national industry organizations in all Western European countries, its goal was to promote a new and politically acceptable culture.

It included such famous personalities as George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur Koestler, Jean-Paul Sartre, and many others. The Secretary General of the Congress was a Russian émigré, composer Nikolai Nabokov, a cousin of the famous writer. The authors themselves did not know the source of their support.

In the book of the Soviet historian Professor Nikolai Yakovlev "The CIA against the USSR" from 1983, the theory of the launch of the CIA "Operations Solzhenitsyn" is put forward. It was built on the idea of ​​anti-Soviet propaganda by financing and promoting the writer's creativity.

To sponsor anti-Soviet publicists, the CIA stood up complex financial chains to “cover the traces” of their involvement. For this, according to Saunders, the special services organized around 170 various funds. Among the mediators in financing were the Rothschild and Ford funds.

In addition to literature, the CIA promoted the development of modern art as weapons anti-soviet propaganda. Intelligence agencies secretly supported the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko and others.

Much attention was paid to the promotion of abstractionism, the elimination of realistic art, which was associated with socialist realism. The intelligence services also “promoted” the animation, American jazz, and their agents worked in the film industry, publishing houses, museums.
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  1. Mitek
    Mitek April 23 2014 11: 03
    Who would doubt that. So the same anecdotes were invented and "correct" rumors were spread. The work was very long. But she gave her fruits.
    1. Hans51
      Hans51 April 23 2014 11: 09
      The information war and propaganda has long been going against Russia, but we can remind them!
      1. Mitek
        Mitek April 23 2014 11: 20
        Quote: Hans51
        The information war and propaganda has long been going against Russia, but we can remind them!

        Man, these are all the pictures. Grachev also took Grozny airborne regiment. Putin acts very competently. I really hope for a good answer 3.14ndosam for the USSR.
        1. Hans51
          Hans51 April 23 2014 11: 25
          Well, of course, brother, these are extreme measures! Putin well done! But it’s time to do something more concrete already, it’s too painful for them to provoke!
  2. ronin
    ronin April 23 2014 11: 05
    And now Yusovtsy will print everything that could harm Russia.
  3. Duke
    Duke April 23 2014 11: 08
    Much attention was paid to the promotion of abstractionism, the elimination of realistic art, which was associated with socialist realism. The intelligence services also “promoted” the animation, American jazz, and their agents worked in the film industry, publishing houses, museums.

    Information war is a terrible weapon.
  4. JoylyRoger
    JoylyRoger April 23 2014 11: 16
    Unfortunately, passionate literature and art were supplanted, foam from the figures of the Khrushchev thaw turned out to be on the surface, as a result, we have, we have
    1. JoylyRoger
      JoylyRoger April 23 2014 11: 35
      Instead of creations about polar explorers, pilots, and just about people of heroic professions, and preferably without ideological background, they received products about adventures in a booze, about the life of ordinary inhabitants, etc.
  5. Giant thought
    Giant thought April 23 2014 11: 24
    Another little pebble in the destruction of the Soviet Union.
  6. Committee
    Committee April 23 2014 11: 36
    I always knew it. Why would these "friends" bother so much for this little book? Probably not from an all-consuming love for us.
  7. ia-ai00
    ia-ai00 April 23 2014 11: 37
    The United States has spent $ 1991 billion on "democracy" in Ukraine since 5, according to their own words.
    And how much have they spent since those years on "democracy" in Russia? Indeed, in Russia there are a lot of "public" organizations that are openly engaged in subversive activities, as well as bribery of civil servants, LibeR / A / S / tov, the maintenance of television channels that pour dirt and slander against Russia, as well as corrupting children and youth, the press, with open anti-Russian content.
    I think the United States spent hundreds of thousands of times more of its FANTASTICS on Russia than on Ukraine. But if you think about it, THIS - IT DOES NOT WORTH ANYTHING, MORE PRINTED.
    Perhaps, if you bring down the buck, it will not be up to the financing of state destruction programs, and even if this fact inevitably causes a global world crisis, it will take some time tight live, I personally - FOR, if only to destroy this HASPEN NEST.
  8. demotivator
    demotivator April 23 2014 11: 38
    But perhaps only one Parsnip served the CIA. And Solzhenitsyn? In Russia, much has been written about this in our country, and in the West the publication of the book “Without a Beard” by the German writer Frank Arnau has become the most noticeable. In these and many other studies, a truly amazing story is revealed about how a man named Solzhenitsyn, using deception, fraud, lies, meanness, blinded himself a heroic biography. He did not hesitate to ask the CIA to assist him in receiving the Nobel Prize in literature. A document was found in the archives in which Solzhenitsyn directly persuaded the CIA to assist in awarding him the Nobel Prize.
    “I need this award. Like a step in position, in battle! And the faster I get, the harder I get, the harder I hit! ”
    And he hit. For the Soviet Union, for Russia, for us and you.
    1. Committee
      Committee April 23 2014 11: 43
      Quote: demotivator
      And he hit
      he is not alone, all these Brodsky, mandelstamps, parsnips, all this non-national rabble.
    2. JoylyRoger
      JoylyRoger April 23 2014 11: 43
      Well, this one is still a "pestel", and the artistic value is 0, and the circulation of his books did not pay off, to the point that his publisher, himself an ardent anti-Soviet, refused to work with him. And was published with CIA money, distributed free of charge among the Russian-speaking population
      1. Committee
        Committee April 23 2014 11: 48
        Quote: JoylyRoger
        distributed free of charge among the Russian-speaking population
        it was, it is an absolutely accurate fact!
  9. individual
    individual April 23 2014 11: 47
    "The secret services also 'promoted' animation, American jazz, and their agents worked in the film industry, publishing houses, museums."

    You have to be very naive to understand that nothing has changed.
    It has become more sophisticated and tentacles of special services are scattered in the HSE, RAS, MGIMO, radio and television media.
    What M. Simonyan and D. Kiselev are busy with is the state program of confrontation with these destroyers of Russia.
  10. moremansf
    moremansf April 23 2014 11: 49
    Only one proverb: "Today he dances jazz, that tomorrow will sell the Motherland!" - she talked about a lot ... The CIA cannot be called professionals, it’s true that the Crimea was a bummer, but we are not made with bast shoes either !!!
  11. Sergey Medvedev
    Sergey Medvedev April 23 2014 11: 50
    Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn were among the first enemy instruments, and now we have almost all the enemy bohemia. Even the signers of the "Letter of 500" did it by force, realizing that one should not openly support Hitlerism in the country that defeated Hitler. Such as Makarevich and Shevchuk are simply inadequate.
  12. demotivator
    demotivator April 23 2014 12: 02
    I specifically looked for the wording that the Nobel Committee used when awarding "our" writers when they were awarded Nobel Prizes. Here are some of them:
    B. Pasternaku - “for significant achievements in modern lyric poetry, as well as for the continuation of the traditions of the great Russian epic novel”;
    A. Solzhenitsyn - “for the moral strength with which he followed the immutable traditions of Russian literature”;
    M. Gorbachev (Peace Prize) - "in recognition of his leading role in the peace process, which today characterizes an important part of the life of the international community."
    The award of the Nobel Prize to immigrants from Russia was and is of a purely political, anti-Russian or anti-Soviet nature. The prize was awarded to the destroyer of the Great Power of the USSR M. Gorbachev, who is now favored by his Western friends in every way - in the West he is treated and fed, giving lectures, the theme of which should sound like this: "How I destroyed the Soviet Union." And B. Pasternak received a prize not for his good poems, but for the mediocre, sharply anti-Soviet novel Doctor Zhivago.
    Another example from the field of literature. So writes the "poet" Joseph Brodsky - about his former homeland - Russia:
    This is a kind of fatherland, engraving.
    On the bed - Soldier and Dura.
    The old woman is scratching her dead side.
    This kind of fatherland, splint.
    The dog barks, the wind carries.
    Boris asks for Gleb in the face.
    Whirling couples at the ball.
    In the hallway - a bunch on the floor.

    Such a “correct” attitude towards Russia could not be ignored by the Nobel Committee - I. Brodsky was awarded the title of laureate. Undoubtedly, an important role was played by the fact that I. Brodsky emigrated and did not have Russian citizenship by the time he was awarded the prize.
    The great Russian writers L. Tolstoy and A. Chekhov were not honored to receive the prize, but although the talented, but much inferior to them I. Bunin was noted by the Nobel Committee - perhaps because he emigrated from Russia.
  13. Fobos-grunt
    Fobos-grunt April 23 2014 15: 00
    The plot is not new. First of all, those writers who decided to make “dirty linen in public” were awarded the Nobel Prize. Bulgakov could also get the prize. So the “White Guard” of Mikhail Bulgakov is in many ways similar to “Doctor Zhivago”. To the honor of Mikhail Afanasevich, I note that with his participation, the novel was cleaned of “fashionable” chernukha and the magnificent performance “Days of the Turbins” turned out. He and the play “Running” did not interest reading Europe
    A similar fate of Mikhail Sholokhov did not pass: hardly the heroic pathos of the “Quiet Don” would have found such an echo in the West if it had not been for the rape scenes described in the novel: - Aksigny as his father, the collective rape of the young Polish Frany by the Cossacks. And the apotheosis is the rape by the Cossacks of the red commander Likhachev.
    Well, they love in the West when we have abominations!
    Bunin Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky - political emigrants - who had no choice but to look for patrons
  14. Diter
    Diter April 24 2014 19: 07
    I once read this book - "Doctor Zhivago", and did not understand what was good about it. The intellectual dangles like feces in an ice-hole, and does not understand what he wants. Between times he sleeps with different women and reflects.