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President Truman confers on the abolishment of the Office of War Information and moving VOA to the Department of State

We would be safe, I thought, if we were to reduce some of these agencies and drastically cut, or even eliminate, others.
– President Harry S. Truman about his plan to abolish the Office of War Information (OWI) in 1945,the original parent federal agency of the Voice of America (VOA)

Cold War Radio Museum

Cold War Radio Museum

Neither President Truman nor President Eisenhower had a favorable view of the Office of War Information (OWI), the WWII parent agency of the Voice of America (VOA). President Truman abolished the Office of War Information on August 31, 1945, and moved VOA to the State Department. VOA stayed within the State Department until 1953 when it was moved to the newly established United States Information Agency (USIA). OWI and USIA were the predecessors of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the current federal parent agency of the Voice of America. In his memoirs, Volume One: 1945 Year of Decisions, published in 1955, former President Truman, one of the best American presidents of the 20th century, wrote:

On Thursday, April 26, I had my second conference with the Director of the Budget, Harold D. Smith. Developments on the war front were compelling a swift restudy and reappraisal of policies and commitments, both foreign and domestic. I had previously instructed Smith to prepare new estimates for various war agencies such as the War Manpower Commission, the Office of War Information, the War Production Board, the Office of Civilian Defense, and the Maritime Commission. We would be safe, I thought, if we were to reduce some of these agencies and drastically cut, or even eliminate, others. During the war so many agencies had been set up that the government had grown to unwieldy proportions.1 Harry S. Truman, Memoirs By Harry S. Truman – 1945: Year of Decisions (New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1956), p. 95.

On August 31, 1945, President Truman signed an Executive Order abolishing the Office of War Information. Not a big fan of the Voice of America, President Truman had supported the establishment of semi-private Radio Free Europe, which in the early 1950s had started radio broadcasts to the countries behind the Iron Curtain under the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) secret management and secret funding from the U.S. Congress. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was also a strong supporter of RFE.

The OWI’s budget during World War II, the most significant military conflict in the history of the United States, was smaller than USAGM’s budget today.

NOTES:

  1. Harry S. Truman, Memoirs By Harry S. Truman – 1945: Year of Decisions (New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1956), p. 95.
Author
Curator

Ted Lipien is the online Cold War Radio Museum's principal volunteer editor. He is an independent journalist, writer, and media freedom advocate. He was Voice of America’s Polish Service chief during Poland’s struggle for democracy and VOA’s acting associate director. He also served briefly in 2020-2021 as RFE/RL president in a non-political and non-partisan role. His book “Wojtyła’s Women” was published in 2008 by O-Books, UK. E-mail him at: tedlipien@gmail.com.

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