The following deals with RL's political, economic and social research on the USSR. Audience research was always a separate activity
During its dry-run period in 1952-53, RL had no research as such, only an "information section" whose activity consisted of buying free-lance reports, many of them dubious,
Zorza assembled a staff of a two dozen or so emigres of different Soviet nationalities who daily screened newspapers and monitoring reports from various republics. Together, over a period of weeks when the rest of us were becoming impatient for Zorza to achieve results, they worked out an elaborate filing system that consisted, in its initial form, of several thousand categories covering personalities, places and subjects, each with its own code. As incoming material was screened, items of interest were summarized on slips of paper, marked with multiple codes, and copies were filed in a folder for each category, providing users with cross-references. This system began to draw outside Soviet specialists to Munich like a magnet. However, a perennial problem was that it was easier for scriptwriters to create programs from their own knowledge rather than spend time with the filing system. Still, the filing system was an invaluable backstop for RL broadcasts.
In addition to providing this resource, the RL research department circulated its own analyses of Soviet affairs. Christian Duevel, a young German who had learned excellent Russian as a POW in the Soviet Union, was one of our best-known analysts, whose reputation spread far beyond RL.
In its initial period, most of RL's émigré staff did not know English, and the common working language was Russian. To give our writers access to information on the Soviet Union in other languages, we created a weekly publication of translations (called "Yezhenedel'nik") from other languages, whose editor was a young German named Dietrich Loeber (later a professor at Kiel University and a leading specialist in Soviet law).
IOne of my personal duties was to write a daily "telex" on Soviet affairs to the RL New York office. Later, I learned that copies of this report were circulated around Washington government offices, and that at least one had landed on President Eisenhower's desk.
In those days, the staffs of RL and RFE were not encouraged to have contact with each other, evidently in an attempt to mask the common sponsorship of both radios. However, we were allowed to receive the RFE daily news budget, and I quickly established informal relations with RFE's excellent Soviet specialist, Herbert Ritvo, who also had a worldwide reputation.
After a few years in Munich, Zorza decided to go back to England. I replaced him with John Nicholson, a young English Cambridge graduate and superb Russian linguist who later emigrated to Canada to become head of McGill University's Russian department. Albert Boiter became my deputy until I was transferred to other duties. He in turn was replaced by a Harvard-trained Englishman, Keith Bush, who was particularly successful in augmenting the research department's international esteem (a major factor in saving RL from extinction when Senator Fulbright tried to close down it and RFE).
If you have questions about any of this, please let me know.
From: Ioana Macrea
Dear Jim Critchlow,
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