The March Toward War: The <em>March of Time</em> as Document and Propaganda
Introduction The Time Empire MOT as Document Marching into War Voice of Conscience Timeline/Index
The Shadow of War
Germany's Rising Power
The World Prepares for War
America Prepares for War
American Neutrality
Failure of the League
Failure of Versailles
England's Failures
Ambiguous Russia
Plight of the Jews
Humanizing Dictators
Americans All
War Zones
Italy Seizes Ethiopia
Japanese Conquests
Chinese Resistance
Spain's Civil War
The Mediterranean
Austria
Czechoslovakia
Poland
Pearl Harbor
 Russia map

Ambiguous Russia

March 29, 1935: Eden meets with Stalin Play audio

This radio bit dramatizes conversations between future British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and Russia's Joseph Stalin as they ruminate over Germany's intentions before the upcoming Stresa Conference. While the real discussion was reportedly "behind closed doors," The March of Time imagines its own dialogue.

The stage is set by Germany's announcement that "England must realize that only Germany stands between Europe and Soviet Russia." Germany must have an army of a million men to prevent the Soviets from Bolshivism and revolution from spreading through Europe. Following these words, Capt. Anthony Eden, Minister of Peace, leaves Berlin for Moscow to meet Maxim Rabinov, who drinks to King George's health—the first time in Soviet history a member of the Communistic government, the "arch-enemy of capitalism," drinks to a British king.

Eden next meets with Stalin.

Stalin: "What is your opinion about Hitler?"
Eden is convinced of his sincerity after a conference with him. "But I do not feel that Herr Hitler is either reasonable or open to reason."
Stalin: What is the danger compared to 1914?
Eden: "I believe the danger is definitely less now than it was then."
Stalin: "I hope you're right, Captain Eden, but I fear I cannot agree with you. In my opinion, the danger today is much greater. In 1914, there was only one nation whose ambition to expand created war. In 1925, there are two such nations, one in Europe, one in the Far East: Germany and Japan."
Eden: England opposes surrounding Germany with hostile powers and instead proposes a new non-aggression pact.
Stalin: England is small, but they will decide whether power will be checked, and can say whether conquest will be checked. "Russia will join England in the general security pact to include Germany."

Eden responds that England opposes surrounding Germany with hostile powers and instead proposes a new non-aggression pact. Stalin notes that the British Isles are small, but they can decide whether power will be checked. "Russia will join England in the general security pact to include Germany," he announces. The Voice of Time notes that for the first time since the fall of Czar Nicholas, Russia and England are in accord on foreign policy. As Eden boards the plane for Warsaw, a Russian band strikes up "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" to make fun of Germany. But Polish leaders refuse to commit to the Eden peace plan, and later Mussolini predicts there will be no miracle to end a nightmare at the Stresa Conference, as some predict. Instead the conference will herald "the end of the dangerous utopias of disarmament."

"RUSSIA," May 31, 1935 Play movie

 Stalin
Stalin (1) appears jovial in the film, but Russian soldiers (2) show the nation could still be a threat.
Russian soldiers
Map of Russia
(3) The size of Russia is compared to that of the United States and (4) The March of Timemanages to squeeze in a nudity shot, noting that "nudism is simply a convenience, not a cult."
Nude Russian dressing
  Happy children
The film is full of images of happy children (5) but notes that children in the South close to the Russian border with Asia (6) are indoctrinated young.
Russian child with Lenin book
 

The filmmakers can't resist assigning native composer Tchaikovsky's "Marche Slave" as Russia's theme song in this optimistic but cautious profile of the country, which the narrator also describes as a paradox. Would Russia become an enemy or an ally? The profile suggests the nation's future role was unclear. "Dictator Joseph Stalin's country is dedicated to the overthrow of all capitalistic governments. But the world's biggest army is not marching to battle for the long-proclaimed world revolution. Today the Soviet army and its great air force are pledged to preserve the peace of capitalistic Europe. The man in the Kremlin needs more time to finish—for whatever end, good or bad—the biggest job of nation-building, of race-welding ever undertaken—the unification of Russia."

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Despite the new communist order in Soviet Russia, "There are still some whose hearts are with the old order," demonstrated by a man crossing himself. The report covers Soviet efforts to unite all areas of the country, through such efforts as teaching common people what their new country is like. The people of the Caucasus Mountains are not yet conquered—but they get food and medicine to convince them to join.

In the South, the Soviet "reunification program has been intensive....At sanitariums, here toys and books are turning the loyalties of these Oriental children to the West and Moscow." Although past glories are carefully preserved, the "old order was swept away" by the revolution. "That the young Soviet is doing a better job of nation-welding than the last of the imperial rulers did, none can deny."

"Only these men [in the Soviet Central Executive Committee] can answer the question which may be so important to the capitalistic world: will a unified Russia continue to pledge itself to peace? Or will the Soviets march out to fight the world revolution, to fulfill the prophecy of the red anthem, to make the international Soviet the human ace?"

August 26, 1935: Communist Deception Play audio

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The newsreel March of Time's positive view of Russia takes a hit as Russia's 1933 promise to restrain communist organizations from agitation or propaganda to bring about change in social order in the United States appears to be negated by an announcement from "Dictator Stalin's spokesman." He proclaims that communists are to lay aside the violent ways of the past and "from now on, mask your anti-religion and spread communist doctrines and world revolution in the guise of socialism, liberalism, or New Deals among the peoples of all lands." An American communist leader proposes to form his own communist national government—under Russia—to protect American people from reaction, hunger and war. Another American, Sam Dorsey, organizer of a "bloody dock strike," announces he expects to organize U.S. strikes of "unprecedented magnitude."

The United States protests the Russian announcement, because the declaration violates a promise of 1933. American ambassador to Russia Bullet says, "If the Soviet continues to violate the solemn promise made by Komissar Lubvienov to the President of the United States, friendly relations between the Russian and American peoples will no longer be possible." The Voice of Time announces that America awaits an answer, perhaps ensuring that more listeners will tune in tomorrow.

August 27, 1935: The Soviet Response Play audio

Russia's ambassador to the United States claims there has been a campaign against the Soviet form of government in America, and Russian propaganda is insignificant compared to the campaign America has undertaken against communism. Other countries such as England have also protested Communist propaganda in their countries. Russia's official answer is that the U.S. note contains no facts that could be regarded as violating their 1933 agreement. "We cannot accept the United States' protest, and we are compelled to reject it."

May 7, 1936: Communist Flag Flies Above Supreme Court Play audio

In what could be a prank, a communist banner was hoisted above the Supreme Court building. This clip dramatizes the desperate efforts to remove the flag, indicating how uneasy Americans felt over the communist "threat." A man calls the firehouse: "No it's not a fire, it's worse than a fire. Give me the longest ladder you've got, and hurry!" The fireman's ladder is short of reaching the top, so they must use a blow torch to burn the flag down. "Well I'm sure glad we got rid of that dirty Red flag before the justices saw it. We'll get the communists who did it, too!" says a man. Clues include a fingerprint on the base of the flagpole, and an advance copy of The Harvard Lampoon—perhaps a hint that it was run up by their staff.