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by Alfred A. Reisch


The secret CIA-financed book distribution project run for 35 years by the United States with the participation of most West European countries, allied and neutral, remains to this day an untold story. From 1956 until 1991, this Western endeavor in political and cultural warfare targeted five communist-ruled East European countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, and the three Soviet Baltic Republics between 1956 and 1970. In 1974, the Soviet Union also became part of the East European program. Thanks to the documents found at Stanford University in the archives of the Hoover Institution for War and Peace and  in the Corporate Records of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and in other American and European archives and libraries, it has been possible to research and analyze the execution, magnitude, and impact of this unique book program. This paper will briefly highlight the origins and aims of the book project, the Polish actors, the achievements of the Polish book mailing and direct distribution programs, and their reception and impact on the recipients in communict-ruled Poland.1

Origins and Objectives of the Book Distribution Project

First run under the cover of the Free Europe Committee (FEC), the book distribution project was launched in July 1956 under the supervision of FEC vice-president Sam S. Walker, Jr., who also headed Free Europe Press (FEP). Following Walker’s resignation in 1959, Romanian-born George C. Minden succeeded him and managed without interruption the entire book project until its termination in September 1991.2  Following the 1967 revelation that FEC and RFE were from the start  financed by the CIA, the book program was separated from FEC and put in July 1970 under the cover of an already existing CIA-funded bogus organization in New York, the International Advisory Council, Inc. (IAC), of which Minden became President.  In July 1975, IAC inherited Radio Liberty’s covert book mailing program run by former U.S. diplomat Isaac (Ike) Patch under the cover of the Bedford Publishing Company, and targeting the Soviet Union. Under the cover name of International Literary Centre, Ltd. (ILC), Minden ably managed  for nearly twenty more years the vast network of book mailers, book publishers, and book distributors in the U.S. and Western Europe needed to carry out the basic objectives of the program.  He was extremely conscious about security, and unlike other Western organizations during the Cold War, his was never penetrated, exposed, or openly attacked even though the East European communist regimes were well aware of the book distribution program.  Minden never wrote about or even discussed his own achievements and long career.  He passed away in 2006 in New York at age 86.3

Origins and Main Objectives of the Book Distribution Project

A 1951 U.S. State Department memorandum called for the establishment within Radio Free Europe of a Special Projects of Publications Section with a twofold purpose: to reach an ever larger portion of the population of the satellite countries “and to contribute towards the fight against Communism in the countries of Free Europe.“ RFE’s special projects included a West European Office Branch in Paris and a West European Operationn Division in London. As early as 1952, FEC gave financial support to the Polish émigré periodical Kultura and the Polish Library in Paris, and the General Sikorski Historical Institute in London. For the first time, the use of printed matter next to the spoken word was considered through the use of a monthly letter-size magazine carried in plastic balloons to Czechoslovakia, and the mailing of 10,000 letters a month from Munich and other West European cities to individual addresses picked from the telephone or population directories in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. The balloon-leaflet program elicited many communist media attacks and strong protests from the East European communist governments and from the Soviet Union.  Following the crushing of the October 1956 Revolution in Hungary, the operation was terminated in August 1957.  It proved to RFE the value of combining the spoken word of radio broadcasts and of the written word for effective propaganda aimed at combating communist indoctrination.4

Book Mailings Launched in July 1956 to Influence the “Controlling Apparatus“ in East Europe
Sam Walker and his CIA overseers in Washington  deserve considerable credit for coming up in April 1956 with the idea of a “Mailing project” of selected literature targeting communist elite members or regime-friendly individuals behind the Iron Curtain.  They believed that massive mailings would be more than the communist censors and customs inspectors could handle.  Mailings of letters and parcels by East European exiles to relatives and friends back home had become common practice by the mid-1950s.5

The printed word and the dissemination of Western political ideals, values, culture, and achievements in communist-ruled East Europe was to be used to enhance the scope of the West’s psychological warfare against communist ideology and propaganda. In essence, this struggle of ideas was political, ideological, psychological and cultural competition all packed in one. The mailing project was launched from New York and Munich in July 1956 when censorhip was relaxed in Poland. “All materials must appear under ‘sponsorhip’ of a cover organization.  There should be no total attacks on communism.  Mailings should favor ‘revisionist’ trends among the new elites. Practical alternatives to doctrinaire Marxist principles should receive high priority. Cross-reporting [i.e. reports on what is going on in the other East European countries] should be used… Negative developments to weaken confidence in the bona fides of their government may be used….Our primary aims should be to demonstrate the superior achievements of the West.”6

Another FEC memorandum stated that “the possibilities for overthrowing the communist regimes either through ‘liberalization’ from without or by revolution from within are becoming increasingly remote and the alternative path to freedom in the satellite countries seems to be along a line of transformation of the communist system by an evolutionary process.”  Because frontal attacks on communism and communist practices antagonized those in power within the regimes, western propaganda had to find an “area of discussion which could be viewed sympathetically by both the great mass of the population and by communists and servants of the regimes.” Western propaganda should identify and appeal to bureauocrats, administrators, and managers to encourage them to “phrase their resistance to the regime in terms of the stated goals of the regime rather than opposition to the regime.”7 Another FEC Policy Paper described the aim of the book program as follows: “to ensure the delivery by normal postal means of political, economic, cultural and and other printed material to the controlling apparatus of all the captive nations.”8

Walker recommended the acceleration of the efforts to influence the “controlling apparatus” in Eastern Europe by mail and other means of contact.  Rather than reaching the people of Eastern Europe en masse, it was more important to reach the leadership groups on which the Soviets relied.  If these groups become “infected with the contagion of change, similar groups will be affected in the same manner in the USSR, making the penalty for oppresssing Eastern Europe even greater for Moscow than to relieve oppression.  Indirect operations should seek to intensify the degree of resistance of the members of the ‚‘controlling apparatus’ (government functionaries and Communist Party members, diplomats, and also factory managers, writers and journalists, teachers and even university students) and to pull them away from Soviet objectives and towards…national independence and individual liberties.” Walker listed four policy objectives: national integrity, self-expresssion, intellectual curiosity, and decentralization of authority that should be fostered to help create indirect pressures so that Soviet objectives in the area will suffer.9

Poland was from the start considered to be a “crucial country,” and the ”thaw“ and “liberalization” trends there were seen as “proceeding about as far and as fast as possible under the circumstances.” This required careful handling, with lighter proportion of political materials and more Western materials of use to the administrative and managerial sectors. Another FEC Policy Paper restated that the crucial country for the book project was Poland, not Hungary, and recommended the continuation of appropriate mailing projects to Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, “with a lighter proportion of political material than is recommended for Poland.”10

Numbers, Contents, Targets and Aims  of the Actual Mailings

The start of the book mailing project was cautious and slow, and the first mailings were intentionally small. In the first month, eleven titles with a total of 6,538 publications, called “messages,” were sent to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania, with emphasis on pushing further “liberalization” by contrasting the target country with the other captive nations.  These messages included various articles and cross-reportings on the Polish thaw with the aim to “make the recipients aware of the greater freedom of expression and discussion permitted in Poland and to increase similar activity in the other captive nations.”11The messages were sent from bogus “cover” organizations from New York and various major West European. By February 1957, the book mailers could count on 24 mailing centers in 14 countries in Europe and North America. During the next decades, London, Paris, New York, Vienna, Rome, and Stockholm remained the most often used mailing points while existing institutions and and existing book publishers were increasingly used as senders to avoid the censors’ suspicion.

The mailing project began to gather momentum, and there was a general increase of volume and a greater diversity of media in the form of articles, magazines, books, and pamphlets.  The messages emphasized the further possibilities of political, economic, and intellectual liberalization not as much directly as obliquely. This was to be done through books and articles presenting Western literature and free discussion; studies of specific areas of Western progress and thought; books and pamphlets on the operation of Western economies, worker’s rights, trade unions, modern capitalism, and Western socialism; Western impressions of Russia and Eastern Europe; critical regime-banned speeches and articles by Communists and former Communists dealing with political events in the area; East European impressions of the West and criticisms of East Europe; and materials dealing with past Soviet and satellite policy and action.  The messages also stressed the differences between Communists and Socialists and by using materials from Western sources  to provoke comparisons between the realities of communism and capitalism.

In the first three months of the project,  a total of 42 titles and 21,488 messages [books, peiodicals, and articles] had been dispatched, with Poland being the leading recipient country.  Materials in the Polish language included George Orwell’s 1984 and Raymond Aron’s Opium of the Intellectuals. Outright political materials included Krushchev’s Secret Speech, Communism in Crisis by Milovan Djilas, The Captive Mind and The Seizure of Power by Czeslaw Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, Man in the  Modern World and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and articles from Western magazines and from the Polish press (“Nowa Kultura,” “Po Prostu,” “ Przeglad Kulturalny”) and the émigré journal Kultura published in Paris by Jerzy Giedroyc, for cross-reporting purposes. Polish libraries and intellectuals received an Anthology of Polish Poetry by the Polish Library in Paris, and the Origins of Russia by Henryk Paskiewicz. 124 Polish professsors were offered a one-year’s free subscription to The Virginia Quarterly Review, and 150 libraries, publications and journalists a subscription to the literary and political quarterly The Polish Review published by the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America. Messages to Poland stressed ties with the West, while those to the other target countries relied heavily on Polish and Hungarian materials.12

In its first six months of operations, FEP had mailed a cumulative total of 30 titles and 87, 283 books and periodicals were sent, 34% of the latter going to Poland and the remainder to the other target countries. Responses began to arrive in increasingly large number: 334 from Poland and only 22 from all the other countries, clearly indicating where cautiousness prevailed and censorship was the most severe.  Acceleration now characterized the book mailing program.  Texts used were mostly Western books and magazines on subjects of particular interest to the elite to strengthen the spirit of national independence and popularize Western methods of running a decentralized society.  The messages also included critiques of Stalinism and critical analysis of Marxism targeting Party functionaries, and exposés of Western economic systems and technical progess.  A policy of maximum diversification was implemented and the number of titles progressively increased, with greater emphasis on Western cultural achievements in music, art, architecture, literature, and on general works on the history of Western ideas, philosophy, and traditions.13

A 1957 summary of activities stressed the pursuit of the four policy objectives of national integrity, self-expresssion, intellectual curiosity, and decentralization of authority.With increasing frequency, intellectuals were given the opportunity to select free of charge books of their choice from catalogues sent to them, establishing the West as the “arsenal of thinking” and helping independent thought by a variety of stimulating works devoid of direct political involvement.”14 On the basis of the responses it received, FEP concluded that the main thing it was up against was not Marxist obstacles but a vacuum.  Instead of being taught how to fight back Communism and shaky Party arguments, East Europeans “needed something that would compensate  for the sterility of satellite cultural life… the ban on encyclopedic education imposed by the Communists…and the lack of humanistic thinking.”  To combat frustration and stultification, the banned Western sources of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic life, and of free information should be made available.  To achieve this objective, the book mailing program had to concentrate on four main objectives: correct thinking from intelligent speculation to simple logic and factual information; a minimum basis of Western values through psychology, literature, the theater, and visual arts; sheer linguistic understanding by increasing the share of French and Geman material and translation, and of anthologies in the national languages.  The West should supply “a feeling of communion in this world, integration into the intellectual and spiritual life of our age, and the knowledge that they [the East Europeans] have not been abandoned.”15

The number of titles and of messages sent to the eight target countries continued to climb throughout 1957, with Poland by far the leading recipient country. During the first 18 months of the program, it received a total of 326 titles representing 112,423 books and periodicals, or 27% of the total items sent. In addition, over 4,000 books, subscriptions, magazines, dictionaries, pamphlets, and catalogues had been sent on request to East Europe, with the bulk going to Poland. A large number of the books were by Polish authors living in the West and Polish translations of books about American literature, economics, and philosopy, along with the émigré journals Kultura, Wiadomosci, Tematy, and The Polish Review. By December 31, 1957, a total of 2,008 responses had been received. 1,772 or 88% of them came from Poland, followed by Czechoslovakia with only 103 responses, and less than 50 from each Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and the three Baltic countries.16

The response of the East European population was overwhelmingly positive, most of all from the Polish recipients, and the mailing project continued to pick up speed through 1958 and 1959. Two years after its start, it reached the half-million mark, with 505,157 bulk books and periodicals in 2,029 titles plus some 2,400 items sent on request.  The number of responses reached a cumulative total of 6,500 by end-1958 and 15,327 by end-1959, with the vast majority of them coming from Poland (10,901) followed by Hungary (2,009) and Czechoslovakia (1,142).  Requests started  to arrive en masse, climbing from over 3,000 by end-1958 to a cumulative total of close to 8,500 by end-1959.  From July 1956 through December 1959, FEP had dispatched a total of approximately 670,000 books and periodicals in 5,500 titles.  The bulk of the messages went to Poland (some 197,400), followed by Bulgaria (128,000), Czechoslovakia (123,400), Romania (98,000), and Hungary (26,500). Latvia received 23,000 messages, Estonia, 21,660, and Lithuania, 16,300.17 The situation started to change drastically by the early 1960s when responses and requests from Hungary caught up with and at times were even more numerous than those from Poland, with Czechoslovakia remaining third.

The Responses: Barometer of the Effectiveness and Impact of the Mailing Project

The 37 Summaries of Responses to Mailing Operations prepared between December 1956 and December 1959 and the country-by-country study of the responses patterns to the mailing operations to East Europe prepared by George Minden’s make it possible to empirically measure the actual impact of the book mailings on the individuals and institutions targeted.  This was done by a statistical compilation of the many hundreds of responses received from each country and, more importantly, by gathering or translating into English excerpts (direct quotes or summaries) from the most significant letters sent by prominent personalities and a wide variety of intellectuals, writers, professsionals, and students, with Polish respondents taking an early lead thanks to the post-October Gomulka “thaw.”The recipients’ most frequently expressed feelings were those of appreciation, gratitude, pleasure, joy and happiness at receiving books from the West and at being able “to read something other than communist propaganda.” Next to accepting the free book or subscription offered to them in the book catalogues sent to them, many recipients gave the name of a friend or friends and colleagues who would also like to receive books or magazines. Many teachers passed on the information to their fellow teachers and to their students.  Many recipients praised the quality and stressed the practical value of the books for their daily work, research, or studies, and many institutions offered to exchange or send books, magazines, and catalogues in return. There were frequent references to being out of touch with the West, to the dire lack of American and Western publications in general, and the inability or great difficulty to acquire them.  There were also occasional complaints about the impossibility to travel abroad, and problems with the postal authorities and/or the censors. In 1958, mentions and reviews of books received through the mailing program began to appear in the Polish press, starting with Zycie Gospodarce, Trybuna Ludu, Nowa Kultura, and Twórczość, and Polish émigré books were reviewed in Nowa Kultura, Twórczość, and Pantsvo i Prawo. The Warsaw magazines Ekonomista and Nowa Kultura, and the quarterlies Kultura i Spolczenstvo and Kwartalnik Historicny regularly acknowledged the receipt of the various titles mailed to them from the West.18

George Minden’s Concept of the Book Mailing Operations

Archival material available make it possible to document George Minden‘s strong personal impact on the mailing project. According to him, “The tactical aim of our operation is to place as high a number as possible of books containing vital information in all fields of knowledge in the hands of those best suited by their position to a) receive books coming from abroad and b) act as centers of knowledge-spreading with a minimum risk to themselves. Our ultimate goal, however, is that of reaching the news-eager masses who cannot get the printed word from abroad directly.  In other words, what we are trying to build up behind the Iron Curtain is a number of circulating libraries, going from our addressees to the reading public, thus helping the long sequestered East Europeans keep in touch with the Free World’s thinking, have the facts that their Russian and national oppressors try to hide from them and, in general, make thought-stimulating and informative material available to them…Books have a knack of finding their way to those eager to read and capable of understanding them…and pass from the more or less‚ safe hands’ of their initial owners or usurpers [the censors] into those of men and women who can best use them. Whether this happens through orthodox and legitimate means, or though some ad hoc black market, we do not know – but we do not think it matters much.”  Minden also pointed out the political and propaganda value of good non-political material and characterized the operation with Larousse’s celebrated motto, “Je sème à tout vent.”19Poland, with some 80% of the responses received from all target countries, and 53% of the titles sent confirmed by responses, proved to be for Minden by far the most rewarding of all mailing projects due to its large population, broader internal liberty, and the higher shere (40%) of the material sent there. On the basis of a detalied analysis of Polish responses, Minden called Poland unique and “a homogenous national community with high cultural potential, trying eagerly to catch up with the best cultural products of a world it belongs to in spite of present adverse circumstances, and tryyng at the same time to find out what other people think about Poland.” Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Estonia made up a second category, and Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria, a third. Minden optimistically concluded that “…moulded to national characteristics and changing circumstances, the Mailing Program has a good chance of succeeding completely.” He advised FEC “to prepare itself for a long and more sophisticated struggle against communism waged with the help of as many talented outsiders from all the countries of the Free World as possible.”20 Minden proved to be a good prophet.

Minden noted that the people of East Europe no longer expected liberation from the West but if given a choice, would choose gradual liberation, with the members of the new class favoring the status quo.  East-West contacts were valuable to them to the extent they could read what is published in the West, travel freely, and learn Western languages.  The mailing project made it possible “to answer some of the East European requirements for general knowledge and objective information while at the same time receiving in the shape of responses to the books sent the wishes and the reactions of East European intellectuals.” He reported important national differences between the East European countries and called Poland a major European power on a level with Spain, “a matured Quixote trying to break lose from her past, her neighbors and her hatreds – Germany and Russia – into the large world of international politics where she hopes to find both understanding and protection.”21

The Polish section of the New York Book Center

The remarkable growth of the mailing project was due to several factors. First, to the overwhelmingly positive responses from the recipients in the target countries and their undending quest for Western literature. Second, to the cultural widening of the program by including, next to literature on international affairs and politics, more books and periodicals on history, sociology and religion, literature, arts and architecture, medicine and psychology, geography,  and dictionaries and language and reference books. Third, to FEC’s strong budgetary support, and last but not least, to Minden’s excellent management as project director, with the support of his relatively small staff of well qualified national plans advirors and editors.The Polish section was certainly the busiest one, and the man responsible for all Polish book project operations was the dedicated and tireless Adam Rudzki. Born in 1901 in St. Petersburg, the son of a doctor, he graduated in economics at the University of Poznan and worked for the Port Authority of Gdansk/Danzig and became port executive director in 1937. He eluded the Germans in 1939 and reached London where he worked for the Polish government-in-exile. In 1951 Rudzki moved to New York and joined FEC in 1952, becoming Polish plans advisor in 1959. From the start of the book project, he was responsible for some 30 years for all aspects the the Polish operation — finding sponsors, mailing, cooperating with Polish publishers, mainly in England and  France, and organizing distribution points to directly hand over Western and émigré literature to Polish visitors to the West. Rudzki enjoyed the full trust of Minden and handled fairly independently the various Polish programs, regularly visiting his numerous Polish book distributors and book publishers  in Europe. He never retired an died on the job in 1987 in New York. Chris (Zdislaw) Gremski,  who suceeded Rudzki for the next few years, had mainly administratibve duties while Minden visited Rudzki’s Polish contacts and distribution centers in Europe.  The staff of the very efficient Polish section consisted of Marta Elzbieta Jaworska, who joined FEC in 1950. A senior information analyst, she typed the addresses for the Polish mailing project and returned to Poland in the 1990s. Barbara Vedder, now Swiderski, was in charge of the preparation of statistics and retired in the U.S. Finally, Zarema de Bau began working for Rudzki in 1966 and left in 1974 to join the Józef Piłsudzki Institute in New York.

The Mailing Project Gains Momentum: The Golden Age of the 1960s

In October 1961 Minden noted that “it seems that the traditional Central European respect for ‚serious books’ continues to prevail in Poland and Hungary, the two countries of the ‘cultural millenium.’” While the number of books sent remained constant, twice as many resonses as during the previous year were coming in, and requests averaged 900 a month. It now became possible to learn the audience’s needs and preferences and virtually create a new mailing project based on the new requests received. Hungary firmly established  herself on an equal footing with Poland, and in both countries there was a vivid interest in general literature, the humanities, the arts, and reference books. With roughly one-half of the responses coming from Poland and close to 40% from Hungary, Minden felt that those two countries “show by far the greatest eagerness to participate in the cultural life of the West.”  While Polish responses were “more business-like…and the receipt of books had become a matter of routine,” Hungarian responses “have shown  even more enthusiasm than Polish ones and have an almost lyrical quality which makes them especially moving.” The interest of Polish recipients was centered on economic, social and labor problems, and there was always a great demand for books on American and English literature, philosophy and history, and for Polish books about literature, and cultural activities of Polish groups abroad. Of the 153 titles mailed in October 1961, five were in Polish, including a translation of the Panorama des idées contemporaines (Panorama of Contemporaray Thought) edited by Gaetan Picon. In 1962, under a special arrangement, 420 books of a highly political nature (by Czeslaw Milosz, Milovan Djilas, etc.) selected by FEC were inserted into shipments by the French National Library to 70 libraries in Poland. As of October 31, 1961 a cumulative total of 9,279 titles had been sent in 803,874 copies to the target countries since July 1956, eliciting a total number of 55,276 responses, most of them from Poland (32,334) and Hungary (16,469), with Czechoslovakia a distant third (3,156).22The meteoric rise of the book program in the 1960s is shown  by a succession of impressive figures that speak for themselves: from 8,775 responses and  5,642 requests in 1959, it rose to 17,077 responses and 15,590 requests in 1960, 29,218 responses and 17,948 requests in 1961, and 43,063 responses and 20,649 requests in 1962.  From July 1956 through July 1962, the number of readers increased from 22,000 odd names to roughly 100,000 intellectuals, newspapermen, artists and architects, and even government and party officials. The book project was providing practically all the intellectuals in Poland and Hungary and important sections of the reading public in the other target countries, with the latest books published in the Free World. The original number of 20 American, Canadian and West European publishers and libraries which agreed to send books had swelled to over 500 publishers, libraries, organizations, and universities (306 in Europe and 209 in the U.S.).  These “sponsors” mailed roughly 100,000 books a year in their own names, and letters of acknowledgement were flowing in at a rate of over 3,000 a month. The book project was not publicized in the West or in the target countries and its operation and field staffs were so dispersed that it would not appear to be a single, coordinated operation but a series of unrelated activities. This “cover system” held up throughout the years to communist scrutiny.23

The book mailing program continued to snowball, with 64,301 responses and 41,237 requests in 1963, 66,386 responses and 36,347 requests in 1964, 58,643 responses and 42,830 requests (of which 28,554 were fulfilled) in 1965, 57,119 responses and 52,962 requests (35,288 fulfuilled} in 1966, and 65,306 responses and 60,102 requests (51,087 fulfilled) in 1967. The total number of copies mailed to all countries also jumped from 74,861 in 1960 to 70,313 in 1961, 85,674 in 1962 to 108,711 in 1963 (with roughly 51,000 to Poland and 30,000 to Hungary).  In November 1963, the cumulative total of copies mailed and distributed since July 1956 reached the one-million mark and rose to 1,010,532 by end-1963, representing 14,643 titles sent.  87,125 copies  were sent in 1964, 96,412 in 1965, 96,605 in 1966, and 132,315 in 1967. Minden called this inflation a “mixed blessing.” Because his budget could take care only of 100,000 books a year, he was forced to cut down on scheduled titles to take care of the requests he received. Eventually, mainly for budgetary reasons, it became impossible to satisfy all requests, whether self-induced orspontaneous.24

Direct Means to Reach the People of East Europe: The Person-to-Person Distribution Project

The first nine months of 1957 saw some 55,000 persons from the satellite countries visit the West, the vast majority of whom were Poles. This provided an  excellent opportunity to deliver selected literature, including politically significant items, without the hindrance of censorship.  Sam Walker promptly initiated a permanent and elaborate system for the distribution by hand of books to Polish intelligentsia traveling to Western Europe.  Stockpiles were to be maintained in London and Paris, the two centers that attracted the greatest number of important visitors from Poland. The project was managed from New York by Walker and his deputy John Kirk, and coordinated in Europe from London by a young Polish émigré, Andrzej Stypulkowski. The program would operate as an adjunt of the mailing project through a network of Polish cultural institutions, libraries, bookshops, publishing houses, clubs and cultural associations. Their number eventiually reached 30 in London and 11 in Paris, the two cities where the main publishing centers of Polish books outside Poland were also located. The first Polish person-to-person distribution program was started in January 1958 in New York, with Stypulkowski coordinating the program from London under the supervision of John Kirk.25The most extensive book distribution was carried out in Britain through a well established London network of Polish book shops, the Polish Library, publishing houses such as “Veritas” Publications, “Orbis,” and “Polish Hearth,” social and cultural organizations like the Polish Free School of Political and Social Science, Polish stands at arts and crafts exhibits, and numerous exile Polish clubs. Distribution was also carried out in Edinburgh, Scotland by Stanisław Blaszczak who supplied  books to crew members of Polish ships calling to Scottish ports. The large and well organized Polish community in Britain that maintainted close ties with relatives and friends in Poland, also played a major role. Between December 1958 and May 1959, Britain was clearly in the  lead with 5,6616 books to 1,309 visitors, and the British network of contacts reached 60% to 80% of the potential Polish recipients visiting Britain. France, where Tadeusz Parczewski and Librairie Poloniase in Paris played a key role, came in second with 1,886 books to 765 persons. It was followed by Italy under Witold Zahorski in Rome, with 404 books to 381 visitors, Belgium under Władysław Drozdowski in Brussels, Germany with Kazimierz Odrobny in Dusseldorf, and Austria with Stefan Jankowski in Vienna. There were also sub-distribution points in various British, French, Belgian, and Italian cities. Between January 1958 and May 1959, a total of  21,983 books had been given out to 7,261 Polish visitors to the West. The vast majority of the book titles were in Polish (169) and 38 in English and French.26

A group of university assistant lecturers visiting Italy took 38 books of a political nature, 47 books were distributed among 120 Polish passengers on a Mediterranean cruise, the 81-strong visiting Polish Academic Choir took a total of 120 books, and a visiting horse-jumping team with their own trail-trucks with horses took over 70 books and hid most of them in the hay. Polish students arriving in France not only showed special interest in Western and émigré publictions but were “begging for them.” 100 dancers, actors and staff members of the Warsaw Drama Theatre and Opera Ballet Company took some 130 books, and the personnel of the Polish Pavillion at the Paris Fair, over 80 books.27 Extensive use was made of carefully selected and trusted regular travellers, mainly artists, businessmen and sportsmen, to willingly act as „book-carriers“ each time they crossed the Polish border. Once inside the country, parcels containg the books they brought in were posted in Poland and reached their destination within a few days.  Frenchmen of Polish origin holders of a French passport were also used to transport books to Poland, and French sports teams visiting Poland were willing to deliver batches of books to Polish sportsmen. Copies of the French edition of Dr. Zhivago were delivered by a delegation of French Catholic intellectuals visiting Poland. Thanks to these methods, it was possible to provide books to many school, university and hospital libraries, clubs, public institutions where they would be available to a wider readership, and also to reach the provinces and not only the big cities in Poland. Polish customs procedures were not always uniform, with sporadic confiscations  or lack of interest in books. The communist authorities were aware that books were being smuggled into the country but for some unkown reason, took no steps to hinder it.  Perhaps because even ardent communists and Party members also wanted to read Western books.

In fact, the majority of the recipients, with the exception of a few travelers  from the older generation, were not afraid of taking with them the strongest political and anti-communist literature. There was a keen interest and overwhelming appetite towards Western and especially towards Polish émigré publications about pre-World II Polish politics, Polish-Russian relations, Polish contemporary history, including military history,and about the participation of Polish forces in World War II in Italy and elsewhere. Visitors were well informed about the extensive Polish exile book publishing efforts and the possibility to receive émigré books. These books, considered as forbidden fruit, enjoyed a tremendous popularity in Poland. The most coveted title was the Polish translation of Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago, also available in French and English translation, and also the Russian edition which was in great demand by visiting Russian artists in Poland. Other frequently requested titles included The New Class by Milovan Djilas, The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz, Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell, General Wladyslaw Anders‘ memoirs An Army in Exile, the Cambridge History of Poland, and works by Adam Mickiewicz, Tadeusz Nowakowski, Oskar Halecki, Stefan Korbonski, Władysław Konopczinski, Marek Hłasko, Józef Maria Bochenski, Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski, together with the regular issues of the émigré periodicals Kultura and Wiadomosci. The Captive Mind fetched at least 400 złotys on the black market, Hłasko’s Cemetaries 250 to 300 złotys, and political and historical literature was even more expensive. Black market prices eventually showed a declining trend because of the larger amount of copies circulating.

A few selected responses from Poland provide the best evidence of the reactions and feelings of the book recipients. From a young lecturer of English in Warsaw: “…Your books [Poland in 1958] is being read by my friends and colleagues who all agree that the analysis [of Poland’s present situation] is correct…” From a student group leader from Warsaw: “Our return journey [from England] was simply wonderful…We are so grateful for your presents which were brought home to everyone’s delight.” From a leading journalist in Warsaw: “While Hemingway will be read by hundreds of thousands, your books would reach millions if allowed freely into the country. But even the few available will circulate continually up to their complete disintegration.”28 From a member of a literary institute in Kraków: “You won’t believe me but I feel like a most popular citizen of Kraków. The reason – your wonderful presents [books] which have aroused a sensation here. Long forgotten friends now suddenly appear in my apartment and show a curiously profound interest towards my library. As much as I would like to guard my ‘treasures,’ I simply cannot resist their pleas and have to lend them occasionally. Every time I get the impression that I am not going to get them back.” From a sanatorium director in northern Poland: “On behalf of the patients in our sanatorium I thank you from all my heart. We wish you all the success in your difficult task of representing the free Polish culture in exile.”29

A student from Lodž who received books by Djilas, Milosz, and Orwell: “We are swallowing them passionately – strictly speaking they are being passed from hand to hand. They are treated as greatest rarities – in other words the best of bestsellers.” A student fro Szczecin who received works by Djilas, Milosz, and Andres:  “…many thanks for all books…They are moving around with cosmic speed.” Another student from Wieliczka who got books by Djilas, Korbonski and Bor-Komorowski: “I must say they are real smashers! All my friends are killing themselves to borrow and read. And those who read them are damned pleased…”30 Visiting students in Paris told contacts: “We are interested in absolutely everything. Polish youth never read so much before as it is reading now. We would like to read anything that has been published in exile – and esepcially what we cannot read in Poland.” A lady from Warsaw wrote: “I saw your book [Wicher Wolosci (Wind of Freedom)]  circulating among my friends but had no chance to get hold ot it. The waiting list is miles long. Oh, please – could you spare me a copy?” A teacher bravely wrote: “This is the list of our requests. Please let us have as many as you can spare. Don’t let our children read these terrible communist textbooks…”31

The Polonia Book Fund Ltd. in London also became one of the most active early participant in the person-to-person program. It was separated from contacts with FEP in 1959, a measure criticized by Adam Rudzki who felt the two programs should be closely connected. After his return from meetings in London and Paris, Rudzki told Minden that many Poles expressed the opinion that the book project was second in importance only to loans obtained by Poland from the United States. Between January 1958 and September 1963, Polonia distributed a total of 101,857 books to 37,025 recipients.32 Polish exile organizations, bookshops, and libraries in Paris and Rome were also occasionally used for mailing books to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Lithuania, and for giving out books to visitors from other East European countries.

Because of the EEI’s budgetary problems due to the growing costs of its programs, the Polish book program was ended in summer 1959 to the dismay of Stypulkowski. Soon afterwards, he was sent by Walker to Vienna to distribute books at the communist-organized 7th World Youth Festival from July 26 till August 4, 1959.  A team of 15 young Polish exiles from West Europe led by Stypulkowski distributed some 2,500 books and 954 periodicals to 550 Polish delegates and about 50 tourists, and about half of the Polish delegation visited the “Polish Exile Information Centre.”33 The Polish book distribution program was soon reorganized in the early 1960s under the cover of the FEC’s Press and Special Projects Division (PSPD) under the direction of Minden and Rudzki in New York.  It included the Kosciusko Foundation in New York, the publishing house of Kultura owned by Jerzy Giedroyc, the Institut Littéraire, the Libraririe Polonaise, and the Galerie Lambert managed by Kazimierz Romanowicz and his wife Zofia, all in Paris, Zygmunt Kallenbach in Geneva, Jerzy Kulczycki in London, Kazimierz Knap in Vienna, Józef Lebenbaum and Norbert Zaba in Sweden, and many others. The network was enlarged between 1962 and 1965, with additional distribution centers in London, Paris, Vienna, Rome, Munich, and New York to supply visitors from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and later the Soviet Union. A more modest operation for Baltic visitors was set up  in Stockholm, with links to Finland and Estonia. The largest by far of this book distribution network remained the Polish one. Thanks to the covert financing of the CIA, the regular support for the numerous émigré book publishers and periodicals, and the mailing and person to person distribution of Western and émigré literature would continue without any interruption for the next three decades.

PSPD monthly highlights reports for 1963 with roughly 9,700 titles sent in 108,700 copies, contain separate references to the program with partial figures, titles of book and periodicals distributed, city of distribution, and names of prominent visitors from Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. They show the growing importance of the book distributors, their increased personal contacts with East European visitors, and the enthusiastic response and eagerness of the visitors to take back a large number of literature, much of it of a political nature, offered to them. The person-to-person program proved to be extremely successful, with 23,407 copies given out in 1963, 44,075 in 1964 (21,000 to each Poles and Hungarians), 62,278 copies in 1965 (30,000 to Poles and 26,00 to Hungarians), 61,911 in 1966, and 87,568 in 1967. In this manner, Minden and his staff knew with certainty that the books offered had actually been taken by the visitors who came to the various distribution points. The majority of the Polish recipients were professors and teachers, writers, clergymen, and students. Polish priests returning from the Vatican Council in Rome took so many books that were openly stacked in their train compartments. Starting in 1964 statistics, the monthly person-to-person totals were added to the monthly total of responses and requests received as a result of the mailings, and the term book dustributed now covered both book mailed and books given directly to visitors from East Europe. The grand total for 1964 was an impressive 167,474, with 107,460 acknowledgements for books received plus the 44,075 items distributed p-to-p during the same year.34 During 1965, a grand total of 187,733 books were distributed to some 50,000 to 70,000 selected individuals and organizations. It was estimated that at least two-thirds of these books or roughly 121,000, had been received (58,643 books mailed whose receipt had been acknowledged by the addressees and 62,278 had been distributed directly).  Out of the 96,412 copies mailed in 1965, Poland was the largest recipient with 36,186 books (60%), followed by Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. A total of 195,703 books and publications were distributed in 1966 to some 50,000 to 70,000 individuals and institutions, and 273,113 in 1967. The 1967 report listed 14,500 addresses for Poland – 12,760 individuals and 1,800 institutions.35

Minden called 1968 “the best year,” with a total of 327,628 books and periodicals distributed to over 70,000 individuals and institutions,  a 20% increase over 1967, and 109,049 books were given out directly person-to-person. The ending of censorship in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring (it was reinstated at the end of 1969) and in Romania, and the large increase of visitors to the West played a major role in this increase. PSPD now had a total of over 100,000 addresses in East Europe, some 74,000 of which were considered active.  The Polish list counted 11,860 individuals and 1,400 institutions, followed by Czechoslovakia with 22,700 individuals, and Hungary with 9,000 individuals and 715 institution Since books sent to libraries, universities, and schools were accessible to many readers, Minden estimated that in the course of a year, these books probably reached half a million persons.  Minden´s book program contracted in 1969 but thanks to gift books from the USIA, the number of books distributed remained high – 274,009, 104,630 given out person-to-person. Acknowledgements of receipt were received for 91,834 books or 55% of those mailed. That year, 82,013 books (30.3%) went to Poland, 64,559 (23.5%) to Czechoslovakia, 56,405 (20.6%) to Hungary, 48,065 to Romania, and 21,346 to Bulgaria. The semi-annual report for the period of January 1-June 30, 1970 was the last Minden submitted to FEC President John Richardson, Jr., and mentioned a total of 110,977 books distributed, 41,000 of them person-to-person.36

On July 1, 1970,  PSPD was separated from the FEC, moved to another location in NewYork, and assumed the name of an already existing CIA front organization, the International Advisory Council, In. (IAC) of which George Minden became president. The transfer further reduced the book program’s visibility to the conmmunist regimes. Throughout the 1970s, Minden also used many other cover names for his mailings, such as International Book Center, International Literary Center, and International Book Fellowship.The last six semiannual IAC book distribution reports available cover the period July 1, 1970 to June 30, 1973, with a cumulative total of 687,000 books distributed, 273,600 of them person-to-person to East European visitors. Poland’s share of the total remained a contant one-third, sometimes even higher, and Polish publications accounted  for about one-tenth of all distribution to that country. A larger proportion of the person-to-person distribution was in East European languages: one-third in Polish and about 15% in each Hungarian, Czech and Slovak. According to the report for the first half of 1973, Poland received a total of 35,350 books and periodicals, and named 44 prominent Polish recipients, among them Cardinal Karol Woytiła, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, Antoni Slonimski, and Gerard Labuda.37 The many prominent Poles who received and acknowledged books in the 1960s and early 1970s included Cardinal Stefan Wysziński, Archbishops Antoni Baraniak and Bolesław Kominek, Zbigniew Bieńkowski, Remigiusz Bierzanek, Roman Brandstaetter, Kazimierz Brandys, Jan Dobraczyński, Karol Estreicher, Aleksander Gieysztor, Pawel Hertz, Stefan Ignar, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Henryk Jabloński, Stefan Kisiliewski, Leszek Kolakowski, Tadeusz Kotarbinski, Edward Lipiński, Stanisław Lorentz, Tadeusz Manteuffel, Sławomir Mroźek, Jan Parandowski, Tadeusz Różewicz, Artur Sandauer, Adam Schaff, Jan Szczepański, Stanisław Stomma, Jerzy Turowicz, Adam Vetulani, Andrzej Wajda, Adam Wazyk,  Jerzy Wiatr, Janusz Zablocki, and many more.

After the mid-1975 and the Helsinki Final Act, the emphasis clearly shifted towards the Soviet Union to the dismay of Minden’s Polish national plan advisor Rudzki, especially during the Solidarity and martial law period in Poland. Minden also instructed all his Polish book distributors to give out Russian émigré and other oublications to visitors from the USSR. In a one-page summary for FY 1982, Minden gave the following figures for that year: “Soviet Union, 155,000 books and journals, 345,000 [copies] of Russian newspaper, 40,000 copies of Ukrainian journal. Poland: 66,000 books and journals, 96,000 copies of a single journal. 36,000 copies of 18 books published and distributed. Czechoslovakia: 21,500 books and journals, 57,000 copies of two journals. Hungary: 18,300 books and journals, 18,000 copies of a literary journal. Romania: 13,500 books and journals. Bulgaria: 5,000 books and journals, giving a total of 871,300 books and journals and a projected cost of $278,868 for FY 1983: $128,996 for the USSR, $75,624 for Poland, and the rest to the other four East European target countries.”38 This indicates that by then, the book destribution program was giving priority to the USSR following the 1975 consolidation of IAC and of Radio Liberty’s‘ covert Bedford Book Publishing Co. book distribution program, now run under the new name of International Literary Centre, Ltd. (ILC).

Nine years later, on the eve of the termination of the book program, Minden gave a short description of the structure and activities of the ILC. According to him, the total number of books and periodicals distributed for roughly 35 years to five East European countriees and for some 30 years to the Soviet Union amounted to close to 10 million. In the past few years, the distribution was close to 300,000 per year, with 55% of the books going to the USSR and 40% to East Europe.  The combined Soviet-East European distribution for FY 1990 was 316,020. The report also describes ILC´s modest personnel of ten and and cites ILC´s budget for FY1990 of $2,720,677.39

The Impact of the Book Distribution Program

On the basis of this well documented written evidence, it can be said with certainty that this massive covert book distribution program, which John Matthews aptly called “the West´s secret Marshall Plan for the mind,” had a very significant impact and a durable influence on intellectuals and professional people and thousands of students and youths in Poland and elsewhere in East Europe during some four decades of Soviet communist domination. For over three decades, practically all leading members of the Polish and other East European intelligentsia and part of the communist party and managerial elite received Western and emigré books and periodicals through the mails or directly when visiting the West. Their names figure in most statistical reports and include nearly all prominent writers, literary critics, philosophers, university professors, sociologists, economists, scientists, journalists, artists and art critics, architects, musicians, and bishops and clergymen. All major cultural, scientific , and professional organizations, government and state offices, public libraries, university libraries and faculties, church institutions and seminaries, literary, scientific and other magazines, museums, and many schools also received a steady flow of books and magazines, considerably multiplying the number of readers and eliciting the receipt of tens of thousands of letters of acknowledgement and of reqiest from grateful recipients.Through the book program, an uninterrupted flow of Western books and publications Western political ideas and Western culture, languages and dictionaries, art and architecture, sociology, religion and philosophy, economics and farming, history and memoirs, and catalogues were able to penetrate the cultural Iron Curtain despite the attempts by communist censors, customs inspectors, and cultural watchdogs to stem the flow.  Ultimately, they were forced to admit defeat just like those who tried to jam the radio broadcasts of RFE and other Western radio stations.  The intellectuals of East Europe were able to break out of  their cultural vacuum and ideological prison and remain in touch with their counterparts in the West. As a young writer in Nowa Huta aptly wrote: “Books we receive from our friends are not considered our exclusive property. We lend them to those who need them…the importance of a book grows if it is used by more people. Books are uniting Poles living in Poland with those dispersed throughout the world.”40 As Zbigniew Bieńkowski, one of the editors of the communist literary monthly Twórczość, wrote to a Polish emigré close to Kultura in Paris, “…without your help, I would cease to exist intellectually.”41

With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War, the final victory in this particular type of political and ideological warfare belonged to the Free World and to Western culture and values. Ultimately, together with the Western radio broadcasts, the covert distribution program played a decisive and lasting role, at a relatively low financial cost and without any loss of lives. And once again, it demonstrated the tremendous and everlasting power of the book.

This article was delivered as a paper on 31 May 2012 at the Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) conference in Warsaw on underground literature in East Europe and the Soviet Union.


1 For the first pioneer article on the book project, see John P.C. Matthews, “The West’s Secret Marshall Plan for the Mind, International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, Vol.16, No.3, 2003, 409-427. Matthews (1929-2010) was director of the Free Europe Press (FEP) Munich office until 1959. This author was Minden’s Hungarian editor then plans advisor from 1960 to 1974 in New York.

2 The complete records for the last 17 years must still be located and released.  Throughout the book project, all relevants reports were regularly forwarded from New York to Washington, D.C.

3 George C. Minden Papers, Box 1. Biographic Files, Hoover Institution Archives. Also George Minden’s obituary in New York Times, April 23, 2006, and the author’s interview with Mrs. Marilyn Minden, New York, February 16, 2008. On Bedford Publishing Company and the Russian project, see Isaac Patch, Closing the Circle. A Buckalino Journey Around Our Time, 215-263. Wellesley, MA.: Wellesley College Printing Services, 1996.

4 Over 50 million leaflets were sent to Czechoslovakia, 16 million to Hungary, and over 260,000 to Poland. For a detailed study, see Richard H. Commings,”Balloons Over East Europe: The Cold War Leaflet Campaign of Radio Free Europe” in The Falling Leaf, No.166, Autumn 1999.

5 An American “action plan” also indicates that the idea of disseminating books and other printed material to reach the Soviet people was not so new. USIA Action Plan “Curtain (USSR)” dated December 11, 1954, declassified with deletions, EO-1999-00102, National Archives, College Park, MD.

6 “Confidential Mailing Plan,” FEP Plans and Analysis Department, September 6, 1956, Box 262, RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives. The use of covert organizations for the book mailing project was in line with National Security Council Directive NSC-4. For a photocopy of NSC-4, see Michael Warner, ed. CIA Cold War Records: The CIAUnder Harry Truman, Psychological Operations, NSC-4,175-177. Washington DC: CIA, 1994.

7 Unsigned RFE memo titled “Proposal for a Research Program to Support Broadcasts to Bureaucrats,” October 16, 1956, pp.1-8. Box 231, RFE/RL Corporate Recors, Hoover Institution Archives.

8 FEC Policy Goup Paper, January 9, 1958, 1-2. Box 262, RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives.

9 Memoranda by S.S. Walker to FEC President General W. Crittenberger, February 26, 1957 and April 2, 1957, and Free Europe Press Editorial Program, February 26, 1957, 1-21, ibid.

10 Interim Guidance for FEC, November 20, 1956, ibid. and FEC Policy Group Paper, January 11, 1957, 1-6. Box 191, folder 6, ibid. Following the 1956 Polish October and the return to power of Wladyslaw Gomulka, Poland decided to stop jamming RFE and other foreign broadcasts.

11 Mailing Project Activities, Monthly Report No.1, July 1957, dated August 1957, 1-6. Courtesy of John P.C. Matthews. 275 copies of a translation of selected poems of Adam Miczkiewicz were sent to selected Polish libraries, universities, and writers.

12 Mailing Project Activities, Monthly Report No.3, August 1956, dated October 198, 1956, 1-7, ibid. The free offer system was subsequently enlarged and widely used to obtain new names and new addresses, and to elicit new responses.

13 Monthly Report No.6, December 1956, dated January 9, 1957, 1-9, ibid.

14 Mailing Operations, Monthly Report No.10, May 1957, 1-19. Mailings to Hungary, suspended in October 1956, were resumed in July 1957.

15 Mailing Operations, Monthly Report No.14, September 1957, dated October 25, 1957, 1-18, ibid.

16 Monthly Report No.17, December 1957, dated January 31, 1958, 1-17, ibid.

17 Mailing Operations, Monthly Report No.29, December 1958, dated January 5, 1959, 1-11, and Report No.141, December 1959, undated, 1-9, ibid.

18 Summary of Responses to Mailing Operations, Report No.22, September 1 to September 30, 1958 dated October 20, 1968, 1, ibid. By end-1958, there were 44 reviews in the Polish press of books, 13 of them political, sent from the West. Reviews of books received also began to appear in 1958 and 1959 in Czechoslovak and Hungarian literary magazines.

19 George Minden, Response patterns of the FEP Mailing Operation behind the Iron Curtain, as of September 1958, Free Europe Press, 1-2. Microfiche Provisional Box #3, RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives.

20 Ibid., 13-21. Minden also saw Poland as a potential “Center of Western culture pressure” on the Soviet Union, and especially the Ukraine and Lithuania.

21 Confidential memo to FEC President Archibald S. Alexander, dated December 17, 1959. Minden Collection, Box 1, Hoover Institution Archives.

22 Unsigned Mailing Project Report from FEC President to the Executive Committee [CIA], 1-3. RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives, and COB Division, Mailing Operations, Monthly Report No.63, October 1961, 1-43. Microfiche Provisional Box #3, ibid., and  FEC Highlight Items, December 7,

23 Unsigned Mailing Project Report from FEC President to The Executive Committeem,1-3, Box 1738, RFE/RL Corporate Records,, and Mailing project List of Sponsors, July 25, 1963, 1-17.  Another list dated March 1, 1968 named  201 sponsors in the U.S. and  284 in West Europe, including 25 Polish in England.  Minden Collection, Box 3, Hoover Institution Archives.

24 Monthly and yearly statistics for the years 1963 to 1967 prepared for the FEC President by George Minden and his staff.  Minden Collection , Box 1 and  montly reports and monthly highlights in
Microfiche Provisional Box #3, RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives.

25 At the end of 1958, the program was transfered from the FEP to the East Europe Institute (EEI), described as a private organization with the purpose of facilitating  the distribution of literature in Eastern Europe, particularly to Poland, with emphasis on exchanges and individual contact. FEP Project Schedule No.218, Munich Office, December 11, 1957, 1-4.  Monthly Report for December 1958, 1-7 and letter from Stypulkowski to Kirk and J.P.C. Matthews dated December 12, 1958. Box 9, Sam Walker Collection, Hoover Institution Archives.

26 Statistical data compiled on the basis of the data available in the reports of the EEI’s European Representative from December 1958 to May 1959, Box 9, Ibid.

27 Monthly Report for December 1958, .2-3, and Monthly Report for April 1959, 2-3, Box 9, ibid.

28 Monthly Report for January 1959, 3-5, Box 9. Ibid.

29 Monthly Report for January 1959, 3-5. Box 9, Ibid.

30 Monthly Report for April 1959, 6-7, Box 9. Ibid.

31 Monthly reportfor March 1959, 6-7, and Monthly Report for April 1959, 4, Box 9, Ibid.

32 RFE/RL Corporate Records, Box 262/3,  262/5 and 262/6, with detailed reports on books distributed and book recipients.

33 Final Report on the Activities of Person-to-Person (Polish) Program at the 7th World Youth Festival in Vienna – July 26 till August 4, 1959, 5. S.S. Walker Collection, Box 8, Hoover Institution Archives.

34 Memoranda from George C. Minden to the FEC President, March through December 1963 Highlights; PSPD Book Center, Monthly Report No.101, December 1964, p.1. Microfiche Provisional Box #3, RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives.

35 G. Minden, Undated Annuel Report for 1965 on PSPD’s Book Distribution Program, 1-11; G. Minden, Undated PSPD Report for 1966 on PSPD’s Book Distribution Program, 1-9; G. Minden, Undated PSPD Annual Report for 1967 on the Book Distribution Program, 1-33. Box 1, Minden Collection, Hoover Institution Archives.

36 Undated PSPD Annual Report for 1968 on the Book Distribution Program, 1-21; George C. Minden, Free Europe, Inc, PSPD, Office of the Director, Annual Report for Calendar Year 1969 on the Book Distribution Program, 1-35; and  George C. Minden, Semiannual Report, Calendar Year 1970 (First Half). The Book Distribution Program, Free Europe, Inc. PSPD Division, 1-74. Ibid.

37 George C. Minden. IAC Semiannual reports on Books Distribution, July 1 to December 31, 1970, 1-51; January 1 to June 30, 1971,1-48; July 1, 1971 to December 31, 1971, 1-44; January 1 to June 30, 1972, 1-64; July 1 to December, 1972, 1-78; and  January 1 to June 30. 1973, 1-83.  Ibid. All sbsequent reports are missing and presumably stored in an undisclosed U.S. government warehouse.

38 Soviet/East European Literature Distribution Program, FY 1982, Box 3, Minden Collection, Hoover Institution Archives.

39 G. Minden, ILC. A Short Description of is Sructure and Activities, September 1, 1991, 1-3. Ibid.
Minden resigned as ILC president in 1994 and passed  away in New York at age 86.

40 G. Minden, March 1965 Highlights dated April 5, 1965, 2. Microfiche Provisional Box #3, RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Institution Archives.

41 G. Minden, February 1966 Highlights dated March 9, 1966, 1. Ibid.

Alfred Reisch
Alfred Reisch

Alfred Reisch earned an M.A. in international relations at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and a Ph.D. degree in political science at Columbia University in New York. He worked from 1960 to 1974 in New York as Hungarian national plans advisor for the secret book distribution project managed by George Minden. From 1975 to 1981, he taught at Manhattan College in New York, the U.S. Defense Intelligence School, and the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. From 1982 to 1990 he was head of the Hungarian Research and Evaluation Section of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, and from 2002 to 2010 professor of  international relations and diplomatic history at the University of Economics of Izmir, Turkey. He is a member of the Hungarian Foreign Policy Association and of the Hungarian Atlantic Council. His book Hot Books in the Cold War. The West’s CIA-Financed Secret Book Distribution Project Behind the Iron Curtain will be published at the end of this year by the Central European University (CEU) Press in Budapest and New York.


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