By Leo Lowenthal
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Additional resources for An Unmastered Past: The Autobiographical Reflections of Leo Lowenthal
You've also told me often enough about American blindness toward certain developments in Communist China and about the personalistic image many officials and politicians had of the development of the Soviet Union. S. foreign service remained estranged from the country in which they were stationed, always assessing local conditions, so to speak, from the cultural-imperialist bias of the United States. They generally wouldn't learn the language well enough to communicate, had contact only with the country's upper classes, and consequently seldom gained a realistic picture of social conditions, even in the countries where they were considered friends and allies.
First of all, could you discuss how and where you worked during the war? Perhaps you could start by naming the institutions where you were employed, either part- or full-time. Lowenthal: For nearly the entire war period, I held an advisory position in the Domestic Media Department of the Office of War Information. Later, in 1944, I worked for the Bureau of Overseas Intelligence, on German material specifically. This bureau was a part of the Office of War Information. While I was working in Washington, Marcuse was working for the Office of Strategic Services, and we often saw each other there.
Our work had two primary target areas. The first of these was the Soviet Union and its satellites, and here our work was basically archeological. Naturally, we couldn't examine the effects of the programming in the Eastern Bloc directly, so we had to develop completely new methodologies. One was the questioning of refugees. That was a very dubious method because it involved such a selective sample. Other material for our investigations came from the reactions of the Soviet Union to our broadcasts, including its jamming of them.