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Voice of America Russian Branch Chief Alexander Barmine Was An Ex-Soviet General and Ex-Spy Who Testified Before Senator McCarthy

An Early Warning of Subversion by Soviet Russia

Already during World War II, Alexander Barmine was warning Americans about journalists like Howard Fast pushing Soviet propaganda and disinformation in U.S. government information programs, which included the Voice of America broadcasts. He also wrote about their growing influence in private U.S. media. Barmine published one such warning in the October 1944 issue of Reader’s Digest magazine in an article titled, “The New Communist Conspiracy”:

The United States is waging a deadly struggle against Nazi totali­tarianism. All its energies, labor, wealth, thousands of its lives, are be­ing sacrificed to destroy this enemy of democracy. Yet, at the same time, in the press, on the radio, in the Govern­ment and among liberal circles sup­posed to represent the vigilant con­science of the nation, there is in process a moral and psychological disarmament before another totali­tarian conspiracy — that of the Communists — which threatens our democracy even more seriously.1

Barmine added:

It is dismaying to see how our Left intelligentsia, swayed by subtle Communist propaganda, have transformed the triumph of superhuman fighting will of the Russian people into a triumph of the totalitarian Commu­nist regime. The Russians had no choice but to fight under whatever regime they had, and they rightly de­cided that foreign tyranny would be worse than native. But what shall we say of American "democrats" who, instead of praising the Russian people and hoping they may reap the reward of freedom, praise the regime that op­presses them and compare it favorably with our democratic way of life? The unspeakable tragedy of the Russian people is that they are com­pelled to fight the foreign aggressor without any rights or liberties of their own. Every second family of these Russian fighting men has lost someone in a purge, or to one of the con­centration camps in which at least ten million victims of the dictatorship are still enduring a living death.2

Barmine also made in 1944 this comment about Soviet attempts to weaken the United States that could just as easily apply to the propaganda tactics of the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin.

The simplest way to achieve this is to create disunity inside the United States –– to provoke racial and social conflicts, epidemics of hatred, suspicion, intolerance and political demoralization until the situation borders on civil war.3

Patrick Henry and the Frigate's Keel by Howard Fast in Overseas Edition for Armed Forces Front Cover
Patrick Henry and the Frigate’s Keel by Howard Fast in Overseas Edition for Armed Forces. In the Cold War Radio Museum collection.


  1. Alexander Barmine, "The New Communist Conspiracy," Reader's Digest, October 1944,
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
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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:

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