"Father X" and
"Father Y" tell of
what they charge was
a Soviet campaign
to eliminate the
Catholic clergy in the
Ukraine. They wore
masks to prevent
Communists' reprisals against their
desired regime reaction (plus desired
cut-down of cost) led Free Europe
Press to consider recasting its original
conception — that of mailing a regular
leaflet publication to addresses behind
the Iron Curtain — into the conception
of covering the country with such leaflets, carried by balloons. Transitional
steps were worked out by a combination of American and exile imagination and ingenuity.
balloons were chosen as delivery
vehicles for printed word materials
because, and only because, there was
no other available way to do the job
effectively. Three types are used to
take advantage of the prevailing West-
to-East winds. Tlie first is neoprene
rubber, four and a half feet when inflated with hydrogen, and carrying
two to three pounds of leaflets. It
bursts at 25-30,000 feet and scatters
its cargo below. The second type is
made of polyethylene plastic, is ten
feet square when inflated, and leaks
instead of exploding, thus floating its
cargo to the ground. The third type is
a larger plastic vehicle with an ingenious release device. A tipping bucket
with 500 to 1,000 leaflets is suspended
from the balloon and kept in balance
by the weight of a small drv ice container. When the dry ice evaporates,
the bucket is tipped and spills its load.
All of the balloons arc directed on
their targets with accuracy by measuring the supply of hydrogen, the
amount of hydrogen leak, and the
quantity of dry ice, in combination
with careful calculation of meteorological data.
As a result, Operation VETO into
Czechoslovakia was launched on April
29, 1954. and still continues. Operation FOCUS into Hungary was
launched on October 1, 1954, and still
continues. These operations represent
joint planning and execution by Radio
Free Europe and Free Europe Press
acting in harmony as an instrument of
political warfare. . . .
Both [VETO and FOCUS] benefit
from continuous coordination of the
resources of Radio Free Europe and
Free Europe Press in New York and
Munich; FEP research and analysis.
RFE policy advisors and their staffs,
FEP and RFE leaflet and script-writers, and RFE programming and audience analysis. This coordination results in effective exploitation of the
complementary qualities of radio
broadcasts and balloon-borne leaflets:
the leaflets' ability to present basic-
ideas and themes in the concrete form
most conducive to a single, nationwide interpretation; the broadcasts'
ability continuously to develop these
themes in the light of events fresh in
the peoples' minds.
The printed word represents a significant addition to communication
with the people behind the Iron Curtain. Light-weight magazines and leaflets, posters and small newspapers are
distributed in millions of copies by
balloons, and bring the authority ol
the printed word to those who are cut
off, except for radio, from almost all
other tangible links with the West.
These publications can take advantage of the authenticity of photographs, the satirical impact of cartoons, and the artistic effects of color
and design. Most important, they can
communicate complicated themes accurately and concisely, and thev can
be retained for rereading and reflection.
The concept for both operations
grew out of a careful study of the New
Course situations in Czechoslovakia
and Hungary as revealed by regime
policy statements, complaints, admissions of failure and refugee reports.
Analysis indicated that the Czechoslovak and Hungarian peoples, in their
reaction to the concessionary and re-
organizational aspects of the New
Course, were taking the offensive
against a party rendered hesitant by
the Moscow power-struggle and
against bureaucracies wavering before
their own public confessions of failure.
Apparently, in the minds of the people, initiative was no longer solely in
Communist hands. It could be in the
hands of others. The opportunity was
Free Europe Committee set out to
encourage the spirit of confidence
within the captive countries and. 1>>
so doing, to achieve two corollary
aims: first, to broaden the peoples
understanding of freedom; second, to
prevent or delay achievement of the
ultimate objective of the New Course
— a placated industrial and agricultural labor force working to increase
the captive peoples' contribution to
the Soviet economic (and therefore
To encourage the people's initiative
it was essential to make them conscious of their united power and purpose
without directly stimulating either a'.1.
identifiable "resistance organization
or dangerous, ill-considered acts.
It was accordingly necessary to emphasize mass anonymity and individual effort. The first requirement (mass
anonymity) was met by the conccp1
of the "People's Opposition" in Czech'
oslovakia, the "National Opposition
Movement — NEM" in Hungary j
whose "members" are simply l"
Czechs, Slovaks or Hungarians wb«
oppose their regimes as best thev ca"
RFE and FEP thus become the "opp"'
sition radio and press."
In the all-out campaign during the past year to induce i-nii-
»res to redefect to their homelands, Soviet Itussia and each of
her satellites issued some form
of amnesty to their former citizens. In Czechoslovakia, however,
the regime explicitly excludes
from its amnesty the members of
the Council of Free Czechoslo-
vakia. the Slovak National Coun-
eil, and the leading Czechoslovak employees of the Voire of
America and Radio Fret- Europe-
Even so, at least one such rede-
feelor was received with open
arms: the Czech Vladimir
Kucera, who hail heen associated
with Radio Free F.uropc.
Itadio Prague made extensive
use of Kueera's alleged experiences. While in the free world,
Kucera had voluntarily made :l
tape recording to the effect that
if he wit I' ever to return to
Czechoslovakia and denounce
liadio F'ree F'.tirope. his statements should he discounted-
When Itadio Free F'urope broadcast this record to Czechoslovakia. Kin-era replied that he
had heen drunk when he made
(From News From Rehind the lr<"
Curtain, October, 19551