27. Letter From the Chief of the Military Intelligence Branch, Department of War General Staff (Churchill) to the Director of the Foreign Section, Committee on Public Information (Irwin)1
Washington, July 10, 1918
My dear Mr. Irwin:
The following information is transmitted to you in furtherance of our cooperation in the matter of propaganda into enemy countries.
The Military Intelligence Branch is sending to the A.E.F. a group of seven officers as the first step in putting into effect the plan agreed upon by yourself, Mr. Creel, Captain Blankenhorn, and myself in the conference of June 20th.2 The officers are Captain Blankenhorn, Capt. Lippmann, Lt. Griscon, Lt. Merz, Lt. Ifft, Lt. Miltenberger, and Lt. Woolley.3 The reason for sending these officers is made plain by recalling the conference of June 20th.
At that conference it was agreed that in the case of propaganda into enemy countries the conditions of cooperation between the Committee on Public Information and the Military Intelligence Branch should be reversed: that is, that the Military Intelligence Branch should have executive responsibility for such propaganda while the Committee on Public Information should cooperate by supplying propaganda for distribution. In allied and neutral countries the Committee has executive responsibility while the Military Intelligence Branch cooperates with information and criticism, as before.
In accepting executive responsibility for enemy countries the Military Intelligence Branch saw the necessity for obtaining the fullest possible information on all the conditions affecting such propaganda. This information is only obtainable abroad. Therefore the above named officers are being sent primarily to obtain the necessary information for recommending a definite plan of action and secondarily for beginning the organization abroad necessary to put the plan into effect.
The Secretary of War, who is also a member of the Committee on Public Information, has personal knowledge of our plans.
Will you keep us informed as to your progress in obtaining men for your Editorial Boards abroad?
M. ChurchillColonel, General Staff Chief,
Military Intelligence Branch
1Source: National Archives, RG 63, Entry 105, Director’s Office of the Foreign Section, General Correspondence, Box 13, Military Intelligence and CPI Agreements. No classification marking.
2No minutes of the June 20 meeting have been found, but see Document 29.
3Ifft is George Nicholas Ifft II. Griscon, Merz, Miltenberger, and Woolley are not further identified.
28. Letter From the Director of the Foreign Section, Committee on Public Information (Irwin) to the Chief of the Military Intelligence Branch, Department of War General Staff (Churchill)1
Washington, July 12, 1918
Dear Colonel Churchill:
Your communication of July 10th2 states the thing perfectly satisfactorily with one exception. Paragraph III, perhaps, does not quite express my understanding of the agreement between the Committee on Public Information and the Intelligence Department. Rather, perhaps, this paragraph needs further definition to prevent any kind of misunderstanding after I leave the department.
The agreement, as I interpreted it, was that the Intelligence Department should have control of the distribution of propaganda into enemy countries, while the Committee should furnish the material therefor. So far my idea perfectly agrees with the statement in your letter; however, I wanted it to be understood that the Committee should have final judgment upon the character of the propaganda, and that the work should be laid out by the American representative on the Inter-Allied Board for propaganda into enemy countries which has its headquarters in London. I further expressed myself at that meeting and now repeat in writing, that we should arrange for the heartiest cooperation and exchange of ideas between the two branches—that the Military Intelligence should be consulted as to its ideas on the character and policy of the propaganda, while the Committee on Public Information should assist in every manner in its power with the work of distribution.
We have virtually appointed Dr. G.H. Edgell of Harvard University3 head of our propaganda work into enemy countries through Italy. He should be on his way to his post in a few days. By the next steamer we are sending over Lieutenant Ferdinand Pisecky to act as writer and interpreter in the Bohemian language. Lieutenant Pisecky is a native Bohemian who deserted as early as possible from the Austrian army, was incorporated into a Jugo-Slav division organized by the Russians and fought with them until the collapse of Russia, when he was sent to the United States by the Czecho-Slovak National Council to organize their work here. He has warm recommendations from Captain Voska.4
I telegraphed to Europe asking James Keeley, former publisher of the “Chicago Herald”, to act as general director of our work in Europe and as a member of the London board.5 He has not yet returned an answer, but I think he will accept.
May I express my appreciation of your prompt action in sending an investigating committee abroad.
4Captain Emanuel Voska of the Millitary Intelligence Branch, assigned to the Committee on Public Information because of his expertise on Central Europe.
5Keeley was the CPI representative to the Inter-Allied Board for Propaganda Against the Enemy, which met regularly under Lord Northcliffe’s direction. Lord Northcliffe (Alfred Charles Williams Harmsworth) directed British propaganda in enemy countries.
29. Letter From the Director of the Foreign Section, Committee on Public Information (Sisson) to the Chief of the Military Intelligence Branch, Department of War General Staff (Churchill)1
Washington, July 23, 1918
Dear Colonel Churchill:
The working arrangement between the department of Military Intelligence and the Committee on Public Information on the matter of Propaganda into Enemy Countries is based fundamentally upon the closest cooperation between the operating forces of both organizations.
On both labor and responsibility the line division of activities is of the simplest. The parallel is that of Industrial Manufacture and Distribution.
The Committee on Public Information is equipped to prepare and manufacture the product, utilizing both its own and Army Intelligence sources of material. The mechanical responsibility for their manufacture will be upon the operating forces of the Committee, in France and in Italy—that is, editorial preparation, translation, printing, etc. In this work it will have the advisory aid of the representatives of Military Intelligence.
The responsibility for distribution, both as to mechanical means, and choice of operating field at the fronts will be upon Military Intelligence, that problem being wholly military.
The Inter-Allied Enemy Propaganda editorial board, containing representatives of Great Britain, the United States, France and Italy will have the oversight of the editorial policies, and the American member of the board, James Keeley, will be the active head of the Committee on Public Information’s operating forces, with headquarters at Paris. Professor G.H. Edgell, who will be the head of the Committee’s Italian unit on Enemy Propaganda, will be under the general supervision of Mr. Keeley. Both the French and the Italian units will be supplied with forces of writers, translators and advertising men as needed. Mr. Keeley will be in Paris in time to consult with Captain Blankenhorn and his superiors by the time the Military Intelligence party arrives in Paris.
To summarize, the Committee on Public Information will manufacture the product, utilizing to the full the advisory aid of Military Intelligence in securing useful material. Military Intelligence will distribute the product. The essence of the agreement is the spirit of cooperation on mutual problems.
This letter is going to you in two copies. If it meets your approval will you countersign one copy and return it to the Committee?
Yours very sincerely,
Edgar Sisson General Director Foreign Section
APPROVED M. Churchill
Colonel, General Staff Chief,
Military Intelligence Branch
1Source: National Archives, RG 63, Entry 105, Director’s Office of the Foreign Section, General Correspondence, Box 13, Military Intelligence and CPI Agreements. No classification marking. On July 23, Sisson wrote Creel that Churchill had “received no letter from Irwin or from you” on an agreement between CPI and MIB. He therefore drafted the letter printed here and asked Creel to “countersign both copies” if it “meets with your views.” (Memorandum from Sisson to Creel; National Archives, RG 63, Entry 105, Director’s Office of the Foreign Section, General Correspondence, Box 7, Creel, Geo. June–August 1918)
2To the left of Sisson’s and Churchill’s signatures, Creel wrote: “Approved. George Creel.” Because it bears all three signatures, this copy was apparently forwarded to Churchill on July 24 and returned by him on July 30. (Letter from Sisson to Churchill, July 24, and letter from Churchill to Sisson, July 30; both in the National Archives, RG 63, Entry 105, Director’s Office of the Foreign Section, General Correspondence, Box 13, Military Intelligence and CPI Agreements)
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University (http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/jhb7/) for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."