Once Upon a Time, We Were ‘Blacklisted’ in the Soviet Union

A letter in the May 1965 issue of Arizona Highways

A letter in the May 1965 issue of Arizona Highways

The Winter Olympics open today in Sochi, Russia. With that in mind, we thought we’d share something our editorial intern, Kirsten Kraklio, found while paging through some old issues of Arizona Highways. In the May 1965 issue, a letter to the editor (the section was then called Yours Sincerely) ran as follows, under the headline Blacklisted in Moscow:

… Enclosed you will find a copy of an “Einziehungsprotokoll Nr. 219158″ of the East German postal authorities. In plain English this means they confiscated twelve magazines and some additional travel folders I mailed to my father-in-law, who lives in Dresden. One of these magazines was published by you (Grand Canyon edition of Arizona Highways).

As you know, the magazine is without politics, therefore the confiscation was outrageous and unreasonable. As publishers of the magazine, I believe that you must be interested in unrestricted circulation within the postal systems, so please let’s do something about this! A letter of protest by you to the Russian Embassy and the U.S. and East German postal authorities might help. If no success, a request for retaliatory action by the U.S. Post Office against East German magazines to this country might be the answer.

Walter Schroeder
Rosamond, California

Now, we’re not sure what kind of “retaliatory action” Walter had in mind, but here’s then-Editor Raymond Carlson’s response:

It is difficult for us to read the minds of those behind the iron curtain. Shortly after we received this letter from Mr. Schroeder, we were startled to read in our morning newspaper in a New York Times News Service dispatch from Moscow that we were blacklisted in Russia for the heinous crime of being “subversive” and for “propagandizing” and “glamourizing” the American way of life. Tsk! Tsk! Ivan! Things have changed since Ol’ Joe Stalin sat in the driver’s seat in the Kremlin. Ol’ Joe was on our mailing list (courtesy one of our American readers who also included Harry Truman on his Christmas subscription list) for years (and with no repercussions) and his daughter was a self-paid subscriber. The dispatch was printed in many newspapers throughout the country (and our warmest thanks to the hundreds of readers who sent us clippings) and drew some unusual responses. The Tucson Chamber of Commerce wired an invitation to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. inviting (via courtesy T.W.A.) three top Russian travel writers to visit Arizona and see for themselves whether we are subversive to anyone in telling the colorful story of Arizona.

Carlson also included a lengthy excerpt of a speech given on the floor of the U.S. Senate by then-Senator Paul Fannin, who had previously served as Arizona’s governor. Fannin referenced the report and called Arizona Highways “one of the handsomest magazines published.” “Once you are hooked on Arizona Highways it is habit forming,” he added. “You begin to believe and then you want to go, go, go. … Yes, the Russians would do well to keep it out of their country.”

Things have changed a lot since then. Enjoy the Olympics, everyone!

1 Comment

Filed under Et Cetera, History, News

One response to “Once Upon a Time, We Were ‘Blacklisted’ in the Soviet Union

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