In September 1959, two months after his famed “kitchen debate” with Vice President Richard Nixon in Moscow, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States. Below is a film of Nixon and Khrushchev meeting in Moscow.
Khrushchev spent 13 days traveling around the country: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Iowa, Pittsburgh and Washington DC. In New York City, on September 17, 1959, there was a large rally at Carnegie Hall protesting his visit to the United States. An estimated 2,500 protesters wearing black-arm bands and carrying black flags jammed Carnegie Hall. The rally was erroneously billed as being sponsored by Crusade for Freedom. Crusade headquarters had to put out a disclaimer notice to the press on that day: “The Crusade for Freedom is not sponsoring any rally or demonstration regarding the Khrushchev visit.”
On October 8, 1959, Crusade for Freedom sent out a notice to Crusade supporters giving some details of how the Radio Free Europe handled the Khrushchev visit:
From the moment of his arrival until the moment of his return, Mr. Khrushchev’s activities were the subject of on-the-spot reportage by an accredited RFE correspondents traveling with the press party.... The RFE stations were able to present a rounded picture of the Khrushchev visit—a picture that included the boos, the pickets and signs encountered along the way, as well as the applause; the coolness of the Washington and New York receptions; the hostile questions at various meetings.
In short, all the things which the Soviet and satellite press and radio were carefully leaving out of their coverage.
We can take real pride in the service rendered to the captive peoples by Radio Free Europe in these extraordinary times.
“Nyet” is the Russian word for “no.” To 76 million oppressed people behind the Iron Curtain in captive nations, “nyet” is a hated word. “Nyet” to freedom of speech, “nyet” to freedom of the press, “nyet” to the right to know the truth, “nyet” to all the freedom we Americans take for granted.
But freedom cannot be taken for granted. It has always been won by toil, money and blood and must be zealously guarded.
Radio Free Europe helps you protect YOUR freedom by bringing the truth and a glimpse of freedom to the peoples who live in the dark world of communist lies.
The Advertising Council’s 1960 campaign began with the question: “What is our best weapon against Communism? The answer was, “Our best weapon is the truth. The Communists fear the truth because they know it could destroy them. Now you can hit them where it hurts—with the truth! With your own truth!
The Ted Bates Agency prepared Truth Broadcast contest advertisements that were sent to newspapers and magazines nationwide. The statement contest was known as the Truth Broadcast, Truth-cast and Truth Message. The entrant was to complete the sentence: “I believe the most important thing people behind the Iron Curtain countries should know is....” The postmark deadline for the contest entry was April 30, 1960 with the entry received by May 10, 1960.
The March 1960 issue of Reader’s Digest (copy above) carried an advertisement that included a photograph of Nikita Khrushchev, with the message:
IF YOU DISAGREE WITH MR. KHRUSHCHEV ...
· Capitalism is a worn-out old mare while Socialism is new, young and full of energy
· The so-called free world constitutes the cruel exploitation of millions ... for the enrichment of a handful...
· Now it is American imperialism which is forcing its way ... to world domination
· Your grandchildren will live under Socialism in America.
Here’s how to put your beliefs to work
If you lived behind the Iron Curtain, you would have to “eat” words like those above about the United States. But you can help give people throughout Europe a better diet of truth and freedom-in your own words. And you may go to Europe to broadcast them personally.
Enter the 1960 RADIO FREE EUROPE Truth Message Contest. Just write what you think people in Communist countries should know about America or freedom. Winning messages will be beamed over Radio Free Europe to millions who want to hear what you, as an American, have to say
The writers of the six best messages would win free trips to Europe for two persons. Other prizes include 50 complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica and 200 Hallicrafters Short-Wave Radios.
In March 1960, a mobile trailer was underway with display information about Radio Free Europe: In Danville, Virginia, for example, a hollowed-out sofa that had been used by a Czech father to smuggle his wife and two children out of Czechoslovakia was included in the trailer display.
Another display was a working model of the Iron Curtain, with watchtowers, border guards, plowed strips, electrified barbed wires, and land mines. There was also broadcast equipment that could be used by local radio stations for programs originating from the traveling exhibit. Visitors to the trailer also could sign the Freedom scroll, fill out the Truth Message entry forms, and make “free-will” contributions to support Radio Free Europe.
Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States for a second time in September-October 1960 for meetings of the United Nations General Assembly. Reportedly, at one point he angrily stood up with a shoe in his hand and banged the shoe on the table at which he was sitting. I use the word “reportedly” because there is no photo or film of Khrushchev banging on the table with a shoe -- although the Assembly auditorium was packed with photojournalists, film and television crews. There is one classic photo of Khrushchev giving his speech at the podium supposedly showing him waving a shoe (out of focus), but in a second shot (either just before or just afterwards), the shoe is not there. The incident, in any event, has become another bit of Cold War folklore.
On October 9, 1960, he gave his only US interview in a WNTA television program Open Air that was moderated in New York by television personality David Susskind. The program was broadcast on a delayed, syndicated basis over more than 250 TV and radio stations of the NTA network (National Telefilm Associates). Hundreds of viewers phoned the studio to protest Khrushchev's appearance.
And, other viewers called to complain about spot announcements during the program, which extolled the work of Radio Free Europe: the time ordinarily given to sponsored commercials was devoted to filmed announcements about Radio Free Europe. One of which depicted a soldier smashing a radio set belonging to a family presumably listening to Radio Free Europe
Khrushchev "just got rigid with anger,” when an aide passed him a note during the show telling him about the Radio Free-Europe spot announcements, Susskind said later.
Victor Sukhadrev, his interpreter relayed Khrushchev's comment in the next station break: "How dare you!" But after a few seconds the Soviet leader calmed down and smiled. "Well, do anything you like. We will win. We will win." Susskind later apologized to Khrushchev saying he knew nothing of the RFE commercials.
According to a UPI report published on October 11, 1960, Khrushchev said that his aide handed him a note during the Sunday television appearance to tell him commercials for Radio Free Europe were being broadcast during station breaks: “I spoke to my partner (moderator David Susskind) about it. I told him what you are trying to do—you are trying to stick a pinprick into an elephant—a mighty elephant, the Soviet Union.”
On October 17, 1960, television station WNTA apologized for carrying anti-communist announcements during the interview with Khrushchev. An apology by NTA was carried at the start of the next "Open End" program. The announcer noted that “last night that many viewers had questioned the propriety of the Radio Free Europe announcements.” He added, “While we believe that the content of these announcements, an eloquent plea for free speech, is worthy of exposure on our radio and TV stations we wish to express our regret al their unfortunate placement on the particular program on which Mr. Khrushchev was a guest."
WNTA station manager Ted Cott afterwards said that he had approved the RFE spots: “The intent of putting this on was to dramatize the fact that we in the United States were giving Mr. Khrushchev unlimited time to say whatever he felt, on American television, whereas they were jamming all our broadcasts in the Soviet Union—and this was the editorial point we were trying to make.”
Nikita Khrushchev was also the subject of later Advertising Council newspaper and magazine fund solicitations for RFE, One ad in 1961 was based on his famous November 1956 statement, "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!" Another 1961 ad in behalf of RFE as "The American People's Counter-Voice to Communism" quoted Khrushchev's statement, "Your grandchildren will grow up under Communism!"
The advertisement continued:
Will the Soviet threat come true? Will your grand-children live under Communism? Forget God? Salute the Soviet Flag? Never! you say. But are you sure? How can you oppose Communism? One sure way. Help Radio Free Europe.