Hoover Library Acquires Collection Of Unique Russian Émigré Periodicals From South America

Friday, June 17, 2016

by Anatol Shmelev

How influential are immigrant communities in forming or supporting domestic policy agendas? Recent work by scholars has shown the close connection of immigrant communities to international policies pursued during the Cold War, but there has been much less work on cross-connections to domestic issues, especially with regard to domestic socialist and communist movements, as well as anticommunist movements. Samuel Lubell’s examination of the appeal of McCarthyism finds broad support for Senator Joseph McCarthy in immigrant communities seeking to express their loyalty: “One can go into any German-American community in the country and find that a talk with typical residents becomes a virtual playback of McCarthy’s speeches” (Samuel Lubell, Revolt of the Moderates [New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956], 73). Seymour Martin Lipset echoed Lubell’s findings: prominent among McCarthy supporters were “those of recent immigrant stock, particularly Irish and German Catholics” (Seymour Martin Lipset, “Three Decades of the Radical Right: Coughlinites, McCarthyites and Birchers – 1962,” in Daniel Bell, ed., The Radical Right [Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1963], 347). In France, Roger Menevee, the founder and editor of Documents politiques, diplomatiques et financiers (1920–69) compiled masses of documentation showing the close connection of Russian anticommunist émigrés and the French Right.

 Although much has been written on the right-wing military dictatorship in Argentina, the general situation in Latin America with respect to the influence of anticommunist immigrants on the development of political regimes has been little studied, in large part due to the dearth of historical material. Recent acquisitions of Russian émigré publications issued in Argentina by the Hoover Institution’s curator for Russia and Eurasia helped fill this gap, providing historians with the possibility of establishing a missing link similar to that established by Lipset, Lubell, and Menevee for the United States and France. Although historians are bound to argue over the level of influence of immigrant communities on South American governments and political leaders, certainly the fate of General Miguel Krassnoff in Peru could serve as a sign that the topic itself is not without interest or significance. The son of a Cossack general and an immigrant to Chile, Krassnoff was convicted and is now serving a jail sentence in his adopted land for his use of force in rounding up left-wing terrorists during Pinochet’s regime.

For this reason, immigrant publications should not be considered a mere curiosity but rather an important historical resource, extending far beyond the bounds of the community itself and potentially influencing in one way or another broader issues in domestic politics.

The publications recently acquired by the Hoover Institution date from the high Cold War years.  They include not only Russian-language books, pamphlets, journals and newspapers, which could not be widely read or gain much influence in Latin America, but also those publications that the Russians issued in Spanish and that therefore could play a role in bringing together like-minded people in the Argentine anticommunist camp, providing each side with what it wanted: the Russians with exposure and a willing audience for their ideas and the Argentines with a broader historical and international context for their own political agenda for the country.

Among these publications one of the most significant is Suvorovets=El Suvorovista, a newspaper issued by General Boris Kholmston-Smyslovskii’s Military-National Movement, which usually included a Spanish-language page at the end (the Hoover Institution held issues from 1948 to 1951, but the new acquisition creates an almost complete set up to 1957).  Suvorovets was by no means the only avenue by which Russian émigré thought came into Argentinian discourse; although only one issue of Viestnik: organ Russkoi natsional’noi mysli v Iuzhnoi Amerikie (The Herald: An Organ of Russian National Thought in South America) from 1947 was added to existing holdings covering 1938–39, its lead article, entitled “The Anti-Bolshevik Socialist Front” (“Frente Anti-Bolchevique de los Socialiatas”) is in Spanish and takes up the entire front page. Among the purely Spanish-language publications are an incomplete set of La Voz de Rusia Libre (The Voice of Free Russia) (1964–73) and two publications that appear to be by native Argentinians but with clearly active Russian émigré involvement, Noticiero Anticomunista, almost complete for 1958–63, published by Carlos Palmeyro, and Frente Comun Contra El Comunismo (issue #10, July 1956 only). Seven Spanish-language brochures published by the Instituto Cultural Argentino-Ruso Anticomunista in Buenos Aires were also part of the acquisition. None of these titles can be found in Worldcat (except at the Hoover Institution).

Other publications are exclusively in Russian (sometimes with a Spanish-language article or insert) and help round out and complete the Hoover Library’s existing holdings from Argentina: Russkoe slovo=El Verbo Ruso (1957–78), Russkaia gazeta=Gaceta Rusa (1963–84), and Za pravdu=Por La Verdad (1951–57). There are also individual issues of Russian émigré military veteran and cadet publications from Argentina and Venezuela.

The Hoover Institution’s holdings of Russian-émigré and Russian-inspired periodicals from South America are not only the most comprehensive and extensive in the world but also in many cases unique, as no other copies exist, even in the cities of publication.