The 1952 Crusade for Freedom fund drive was a financial disappointment: it raised the lowest amount of contributions in the Crusade for Freedom's ten-year history. Due to the disappointing results, Arthur Page, Chairman of the Executive Committee of National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE) had preliminary discussions with Thomas D’Arcy Brophy, president of the American Heritage Foundation (AHF), with the view that the latter take over the fundraising campaign for the 1954 Crusade.
At the NCFE Director’s Meeting on March 17, 1953, Page reported that he and Brophy had agreed, in principle, that
- The Crusade for Freedom should finish its current campaign and conclude its money-raising activities not later than June 30, 1953, and should thereafter cease all activity, it being understood that whatever steps possible would be taken to preserve the name ‘Crusade for Freedom’ in view of its established value and widespread acceptance.
- The Heritage Foundation would take over full responsibility for the next year’s money-raising campaign for NCFE, assuming the same position vis-à-vis NCFE as the Crusade for Freedom has heretofore occupied, the sole NCFE responsibility being to check the Heritage Foundation publicity to be sure it accurately reflected the facts.
- The Heritage Foundation may use the ‘Crusade for Freedom’ name during its fund-raising campaign but that right, title and interest in the name ‘Crusade for Freedom’, to the extent possible, would remain in the National Committee for a Free Europe.
On May 1, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a lettter to D’arcy Brophy in which he strongly endorses the American Heritage Foundation take over the Crusade for Freedom campaigns:
I am told that the Executive Committee, of the American Heritage Foundation is meeting on May fourteenth to consider the possibility of undertaking the important work of private citizens now being carried forward by the “Crusade for Freedom.” Because I am a former Trustee of the American Heritage Foundation and was a participant in the "Crusade for Freedom" while I was in private life, you will perhaps not take it amiss if I express an opinion. I believe that the work is of great importance. and it seems to me that the American Heritage Foundation is uniquely qualified to carry it out. It is a public service of no less importance than the tasks the Foundation has accepted in the past.
During their August 1952 meeting, the Crusade Board of Directors had elected Henry Ford II to the offices of Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Crusade for Freedom. As Chairman of the Board of the American Heritage Foundation, he presided over the 1953–1954 Crusade for Freedom campaign conference October 20-21, 1953 in Washington, D.C.
391 persons met at the Pentagon building and Mayflower Hotel, including individuals representing national organizations (including 29 labor), companies and corporations. Twenty-nine Crusade state chairmen also attended.
The meeting at the Pentagon on October 20, 1953, was for heads of national organizations; the one on October 21, 1953, was for corporate executives. The "Freedom Tank" was delivered to the Washington meetings. A Paramount Pictures newsreel, released October 23, 1951, covered the events at one point showed some of those who attended the meeting looking intently at the "Freedom Tank."
There was a dinner for all attendees at the Mayflower Hotel on October 21, 1953, during which three purposes of the upcoming public Crusade campaign, scheduled for February 1954, were announced:
- Enlist the participation of large number of Americans,
- Secure millions of signatures,
- Create a favorable climate for the fund raising drive.
The fund-raising goal of the 1953–1954 campaign was announced as $10,000,000 and signatures of 25,000,000 Americans. As a “kick-off” conference for the upcoming Crusade, workshops were held for Crusade state chairmen and other national and organizational leaders to “better prepare themselves for making known to the American public the threat of international communism, and what is being done to combat it.” Henry Ford II announced to the conference attendees:
You will hear in detail about the Crusade and the effort it is having through Radio Free Europe on the captive peoples under Communism behind the Iron Curtain ... you will hear from top people in the Government that this Crusade is indispensible to the security of the United States at a time when the threat to our way of life is real, ominous and growing.
One of the “top people in the Government” to whom Ford referred was Allen Dulles, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Prior to the October meetings, Allen Dulles wrote a Confidential memorandum to Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson on October 17, 1953, which gave a background report of the NCFE and Radio Free Europe, including the continuing cover story of its true sponsorship:
The National Committee for a Free Europe is a private citizens organization, which employs the skills of exiles in this country and abroad to lend hope and encouragement, and in some instances actual physical assistance, to their fellow countrymen behind the Iron Curtain.
We here consider Radio Free Europe to be about the hardest hitting and most effective weapon we have for reaching people in the satellite areas directly. Most defectors agree with us.
Charles E. Wilson
Dulles told Wilson, who also was due to speak at the meeting, that he was “asked by D’Arcy Brophy to relay to you his suggestion that you stress in your preliminary remarks the importance of private citizen participation in the present struggle against the totalitarian system.” As a postscript to his memorandum, Dulles told Wilson that,
CIA’s interest in the Crusade and Radio Free Europe is entirely covert and should not be mentioned. My appearance at the two briefings is solely as Director of Central Intelligence to give a factual picture of conditions behind the Iron Curtain.
Dulles told the assembled group:
It must be one of the objectives of the free world to find a peaceful way of bringing the Soviet Union back to its historic boundaries. I think that one of the important ways of doing it is showing the Soviet Union that it can never tame and can never subdue the millions of people in this area (the Iron Curtain countries) ... What we must try to do is to find every means of showing the Soviet Union that that will growingly be more of a liability to the Soviet Union than an asset.
We estimate that Radio Free Europe is a powerful weapon, one of the most powerful in keeping the hope of freedom alive. We believe that it is powerful in very large measure because it is viewed in those countries not as an instrument of government propaganda, but as something supported by millions of American people, with whom the contacts with those people have always been close.
We consider it one of our strongest and most important weapons we have in peacefully winning the cold war.
The final speaker at the first day’s conference was Thomas D’Arcy Brophy. After giving the reasons why the Heritage Foundation decided to take on the Crusade for Freedom, he concluded his remarks by thanking the Advertising Council for being “the most important partner” of the American Heritage Foundation. Brophy looked forward to “publicity support ‘unparallel in the history of such activities in this country.’ Brophy finished his remarks by quoting President Eisenhower, “I urge every American to support this independent American enterprise dedicated to strengthening the will to Freedom.”
On October 21, 1953, D’Arcy Brophy sent a letter to “Fellow Americans,” in which he outlined the goals of the 1954, Crusade campaign and concluded the letter with, “Make up your mind to give. Make up your mind to inspire your family, your friends, your associates to give with you.“