Readex provides digital access to the principal historical record of open-source intelligence gathered by the United States from World War II through the end of the Cold War. Spanning Africa, Asia and the Pacific, China, Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the Soviet Union, this intelligence, obtained from publicly available media, includes reports from radio and television broadcasts, journals and newspapers, monographs, reports and other sources. Together, these uniquely valuable reports—available in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1941-1996 and the Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995—provide millions of pages of English-language information.
In “Just Browsing: Cool Items from the Past,” I shared several unexpected items I recently stumbled upon in America’s Historical Newspapers. I don’t however expect to find such wonderful things in Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Reports. What’s cool there comes more from the benefits of hindsight than sheer surprise. And that backward look lets the propagandistic nature of some of the documents shine through. One I recently read is the somewhat hagiographic interview with Kim Philby, the former high-ranking member of British intelligence agent who spied for and later defected to the Soviet Union. The interview, first published in the Russian daily newspaper Izvestiya on Dec. 19, 1967, was translated into English for publication in FBIS supplement “MATERIALS ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF SOVIET STATE SECURITY ORGANS, FBIS-FRB-68-007-S on 1968-01-10. Supplement number 2” Titled “Hello, Comrade Philby,” the article starts with a street scene in chilly Moscow:
What do the following seven people have in common: Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, Peter Ayodele Curtis Joseph, Modibo Keita, Shafie Ahmed el-Sheikh, Samora Machel, Agostinho Neto, Sam Nujoma and Nelson Mandela?
Well surely many things indeed. For example, if you said they were all important African leaders in the second half of the twentieth century, you would be correct. Each, however, in addition to any other commonalities, received the Lenin Peace Prize—the Soviet Union’s counterpart to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Articles and radio broadcasts monitored, translated, and published in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports discuss the Lenin Peace Prize awards. By searching on the phrase “Lenin Peace Prize” and limiting results to items from Africa, one gets 22 results in the Readex digital edition of FBIS Daily Reports and Annexes, 1941-1996. Searching for “Lenin Peace Prize” in the Readex database without limiting results by location retrieves some 268 results.
Here is one example from the Accra Ghana Domestic Service on how the award was perceived in that country in 1962.
Buried among the verbiage of a lengthy speech by Nikita Khrushchev from 1960 is a Communist Party plan that I’d never heard before – that the Soviet Union would abolish taxes on workers and employees by 1965, and also shorten their workday! It turns out this was a major Soviet domestic policy in 1960, worthy of headlines in the Trenton Evening Times, as can be seen from this page view.