‘All revolutions bring their own laws’: Selections from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995
Reports from the Joint Publications Research Service—acting as a unit within the Central Intelligence Agency—were published to provide wide-ranging insight into geo-politics, global threat assessments, public policy, foreign intelligence, national security, the Cold War and more. These were among the newly digitized reports released to the Readex digital edition in November and December 2016.
Comments on the TU-144 Supersonic Aircraft
Skrzydlata Polska (Polish Aircraft), No. 33 (788), 14 August 1966. 8 pages
Over two years before the first successful flight of the supersonic commercial aircraft Concorde, you could have learned the details of its Soviet counterpart from A.N. Tupolev himself in this Polish technical journal. The TU-144 shared the general configuration and iconic “drooped” nose of the British-French aircraft, and was the first such aircraft to exceed Mach 2. It was in production until the early 1980s.
Rare Phenomena: “Vision” in the Fingers of Rosa Kuleshova
Priroda (Nature), No. 5, 1963. 22 pages
The first sentence of this report states simply, “Toward the end of the year just past a series of reports appeared in the newspapers telling about a young woman from Nizhniy Tagil, Rosa Kuleshova, who had learned how to read ordinary printed text while blindfolded, and to distinguish colors even when in total darkness.” But how could this be true? Was it psychic ability? An elaborate hoax? After extensive testing, the report’s author concluded that Kuleshova accomplished her feat by touch alone. Can you trust your own eyes? How about your fingers? Read the report.
Views Expressed on Expulsion of 147 Turkish University Professors from the Newspaper Vatan
Vatan, 23-31 December 1960. 15 pages
“All revolutions bring their own laws,” writes one of the critics of Turkish Law 114 (1960), which forced into retirement 147 university professors following the Turkish Republic’s first coup d’état on May 27, 1960. Among the authors criticizing the law (and by extension the new government), one cites the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303 (1946).
In that case, the House Un-American Activities Committee accused a number of government employees including Robert Morss Lovett of subversive activities, leading to the dismissal of Lovett and two others, and the withholding of their wages. Although the measure passed into law in the midst of World War II and under protest from President Roosevelt, the appellants’ claims for back pay were ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, although the parties were not reinstated.
Provocations to Cover Provocations
Zeri i Popullit (Voice of the People), No. 89, 12 April 1961. 11 pages
This report describes a period during the 1950s in which Albanian émigrés in Yugoslavia were tortured into confessing that they were spies and seditionists:
It is well know now that the put-up courts in Yugoslavia against the so-called Albanian agents, are nothing but a farce, where faithful U.D.B. (Yugoslav state police) agents play parts given to them beforehand. The stories of the repatriated show that the UDB is not satisfied with just this. It constructs so many courts that it needs a great number of accused and “witnesses” and it stops at nothing to persuade any exile that passes the frontier to declare that he is sent from Albania, and to turn him into a puppet for its own purposes.
The harrowing accounts of the “Albanian agents” serve as a chilling reminder of what can go wrong when countries share a border—and little else.
Francisco Juliao Writes a Primer for Peasants
A Cartilha do Campones [pamphlet], September 1960. 12 pages
Francisco Juliao writes vividly and gets to the point: the system is rigged against the poor and disenfranchised, but they can do something about it if they work together for change. Think of Juliao as Brazil’s Bernie Sanders, only Juliao’s revolution was packing heat. He quotes Fidel Castro, “Democracy is the government that arms the people.” At a time when Castro was kicking the U.S. out of the Bay of Pigs, Juliao’s message resonated in Brazil, Cuba and the United States.
Leninist Theory in Post-Liberation Literature and Arts
Choson Omun (Korean Language and Literature), No. 5, 20 September 1960. 20 pages
North Korea and the “general guidelines for arts and literature formulated by the Party,” i.e., the Korean Workers’ Party. What sort of cultural expressions might such a hermetic aesthetic produce? If you answered, “socialist realism,” you’re on the right track. Two more words: “miraculous heroism.” How about “idealistic communism?” It's all here, but is it Art?
The Changing Population Policy in Communist China
Aussenpolitik (Foreign Policy), Vol. XI No. 12, December 1960. 12 pages
China has lots of people; that’s by design. What happens when birth control runs into social(ist) policy in favor of increasing birth rates? According to the author, when the Communist Party took over the government in 1949, they didn't even know how many people they had. “Strength lies in numbers,” thought Chairman Mao, but hindsight allows us to cite China’s “one-child policy” from the 1970s in opposition to Marxist dogma. Can you imagine your government dictating the size of your family?
The Frenzel Spy Case
Der Spiegel (The Mirror), Vol. 14 No. 46, 9 November 1960. 16 pages
A high government official in Cold War West Germany. An attractive female stenographer whose classified notes on naval weapons go missing. West German intelligence contrives a counter-espionage operation, and six East German agents are arrested. James Bond? No, Alfred Frenzel and Rosalies Kunze. JPRS Reports have plenty of useful tables and charts. But there’s also high stakes flesh-and-blood spy vs. spy material like this.
Danish Writer Discusses “Foul Play in the Cold War”
Aktuelt, 12 March 1961. 6 pages
Fake news arrived long before the Internet. This brief Danish report describes the U.S. State Department as supporting West German neo-Nazis; the BBC colluding with the British Foreign Office regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons; and the U.S. Secretary of Defense claiming in print that 67% of America's military pilots were mentally unbalanced and suffering from “moral depression.”
The First Flight of Man in Cosmic Space
Izvestiya (News), 25 April 1961. 18 pages
The United States just lost John Glenn—military hero, U.S. senator, and the first American to orbit the Earth. The former Soviet Union lost its heroic cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, many years ago, in 1968. Here he is in his prime just two weeks after his unprecedented achievement.
The Servant of Three Gentlemen (Article concerning Cardinal Spellman)
Trud (Labor), No. 29, 29 March 1961. 6 pages
In 1961 John F. Kennedy was the “Catholic” president who had to account for his faith and reassure the American people they weren’t electing the Pope in absentia. Cardinal Francis Spellman was the most powerful Catholic prelate in the country, so the Soviets felt compelled to ask: whom does he serve? The Vatican? Corporate interests? The U.S. government? The Soviets decided there’s no such thing as separation of church and state, and they worried about that. This report is more invective than analysis.
For more information about Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1994, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.