photo of An Rand by Phyllis Cerf

Ayn Rand’s testimony (October 20, 1947)
before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities

Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, Chairman of the Committee: Raise your
right hand, please, Miss Rand. Do you solemnly swear the testimony you
are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you God?

Ayn Rand: I do.

Chairman Thomas: Sit down.

Mr. Robert E. Stripling, Chief Investigator: Miss Rand, will you state your name, please, for the record?

Rand: Ayn Rand, or Mrs. Frank O’Connor.

Stripling: That is A-y-n?

Rand: That is right.

Stripling: R-a-n-d?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Is that your pen name?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: And what is your married name?

Rand: Mrs. Frank O’Connor.

Stripling: Where were you born, Miss Rand?

Rand: In St. Petersburg, Russia.

Stripling: When did you leave Russia?

Rand: In 1926.

Stripling: How long have you been employed in Hollywood?

Rand: I have been in pictures on and off since late in 1926,
but specifically as a writer this time I have been in Hollywood since
late 1943 and am now under contract as a writer.

Stripling: Have you written various novels?

Rand: One second. May I have one moment to get this in order?

Stripling: Yes.

Rand: Yes, I have written two novels. My first one was called We the Living, which was a story about Soviet Russia and was published in 1936. The second one was The Fountainhead, published in 1943.

Stripling: Was that a best seller — The Fountainhead?

Rand: Yes; thanks to the American public.

Stripling: Do you know how many copies were sold?

Rand: The last I heard was 360,000 copies. I think there have been some more since.

Stripling: You have been employed as a writer in Hollywood?

Rand: Yes; I am under contract at present.

Stripling: Could you name some of the stories or scripts you have written for Hollywood?

Rand: I have done the script of The Fountainhead,
which has not been produced yet, for Warner Brothers, and two
adaptations for Hal Wallis Productions, at Paramount, which were not my
stories but on which I did the screen plays, which were Love Letters and You Came Along.

Stripling: Now, Miss Rand, you have heard the testimony of Mr. [Louis B.] Mayer?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: You have read the letter I read from Lowell Mellett?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Which says that the picture Song of Russia has no political implications?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Did you at the request of Mr. Smith, the investigator for this committee, view the picture Song of Russia?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Within the past two weeks?

Rand: Yes; on October 13, to be exact.

Stripling: In Hollywood?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Would you give the committee a break-down of your
summary of the picture relating to either propaganda or an untruthful
account or distorted account of conditions in Russia?

Rand: Yes.

First of all I would like to define what we mean by propaganda. We have all been talking about it, but nobody —

Stripling: Could you talk into the microphone?

Rand: Can you hear me now? Nobody has stated just what they
mean by propaganda. Now, I use the term to mean that Communist
propaganda is anything which gives a good impression of communism as a
way of life. Anything that sells people the idea that life in Russia is
good and that people are free and happy would be Communist propaganda.
Am I not correct? I mean, would that be a fair statement to make —
that that would be Communist propaganda?

Now, here is what the picture Song of Russia contains. It
starts with an American conductor, played by Robert Taylor, giving a
concert in America for Russian war relief. He starts playing the
American national anthem and the national anthem dissolves into a
Russian mob, with the sickle and hammer on a red flag very prominent
above their heads. I am sorry, but that made me sick. That is something
which I do not see how native Americans permit, and I am only a
naturalized American. That was a terrible touch of propaganda. As a
writer, I can tell you just exactly what it suggests to the people. It
suggests literally and technically that it is quite all right for the
American national anthem to dissolve into the Soviet. The term here is
more than just technical. It really was symbolically intended, and it
worked out that way. The anthem continues, played by a Soviet band.
That is the beginning of the picture.

Now we go to the pleasant love story. Mr. Taylor is an American who
came there apparently voluntarily to conduct concerts for the Soviets.
He meets a little Russian girl from a village who comes to him and begs
him to go to her village to direct concerts there. There are no GPU
agents and nobody stops her. She just comes to Moscow and meets him. He
falls for her and decides he will go, because he is falling in love. He
asks her to show him Moscow. She says she has never seen it. He says,
“I will show it to YOU.” They see it together. The picture then goes
into a scene of Moscow, supposedly. I don’t know where the studio got
its shots, but I have never seen anything like it in Russia. First you
see Moscow buildings — big, prosperous-looking, clean buildings, with
something like swans or sailboats in the foreground. Then you see a
Moscow restaurant that just never existed there. In my time, when I was
in Russia, there was only one such restaurant, which was nowhere as
luxurious as that and no one could enter it except commissars and
profiteers. Certainly a girl from a village, who in the first place
would never have been allowed to come voluntarily, without permission,
to Moscow, could not afford to enter it, even if she worked ten years.
However, there is a Russian restaurant with a menu such as never
existed in Russia at all and which I doubt even existed before the
revolution. From this restaurant they go on to this tour of Moscow. The
streets are clean and prosperous-looking. There are no food lines
anywhere. You see shots of the marble subway — the famous Russian
subway out of which they make such propaganda capital. There is a
marble statue of Stalin thrown in. There is a park where you see happy
little children in white blouses running around. I don’t know whose
children they are, but they are really happy kiddies. They are not
homeless children in rags, such as I have seen in Russia. Then you see
an excursion boat, on which the Russian people are smiling, sitting
around very cheerfully, dressed in some sort of satin blouses such as
they only wear in Russian restaurants here. Then they attend a
luxurious dance. I don’t know where they got the idea of the clothes
and the settings that they used at the ball and —

Stripling: Is that a ballroom scene?

Rand: Yes; the ballroom — where they dance. It was an
exaggeration even for this country. I have never seen anybody wearing
such clothes and dancing to such exotic music when I was there. Of
course, it didn’t say whose ballroom it is or how they get there. But
there they are — free and dancing very happily.

Incidentally, I must say at this point that I understand from
correspondents who have left Russia and been there later than I was and
from people who escaped from there later than I did that the time I saw
it, which was in 1926, was the best time since the Russian revolution.
At that time conditions were a little better than they have become
since. In my time we were a bunch of ragged, starved, dirty, miserable
people who had only two thoughts in our mind. That was our complete
terror — afraid to look at one another, afraid to say anything for
fear of who is listening and would report us — and where to get the
next meal. You have no idea what it means to live in a country where
nobody has any concern except food, where all the conversation is about
food because everybody is so hungry that that is all they can think
about and that is all they can afford to do. They have no idea of
politics. They have no idea of any pleasant romances or love-nothing
but food and fear. That is what I saw up to 1926. That is not what the
picture shows.

Now, after this tour of Moscow, the hero — the American conductor
— goes to the Soviet village. The Russian villages are something — so
miserable and so filthy. They were even before the revolution. They
weren’t much even then. What they have become now I am afraid to think.
You have all read about the program for the collectivization of the
farms in 1933, at which time the Soviet Government admits that three
million peasants died of starvation. Other people claim there were
seven and a half million, but three million is the figure admitted by
the Soviet Government as the figure of people who died of starvation,
planned by the government in order to drive people into collective
farms. That is a recorded historical fact.

Now, here is the life in the Soviet village as presented in Song of Russia.
You see the happy peasants. You see they are meeting the hero at the
station with bands, with beautiful blouses and shoes, such as they
never wore anywhere. You see children with operetta costumes on them
and with a brass band which they could never afford. You see the
manicured starlets driving tractors and the happy women who come from
work singing. You see a peasant at home with a close-up of food for
which anyone there would have been murdered. If anybody had such food
in Russia in that time he couldn’t remain alive, because he would have
been torn apart by neighbors trying to get food. But here is a close-up
of it and a line where Robert Taylor comments on the food and the
peasant answers, “This is just a simple country table and the food we
eat ourselves.”

Then the peasant proceeds to show Taylor how they live. He shows him
his wonderful tractor. It is parked somewhere in his private garage. He
shows him the grain in his bin, and Taylor says, “That is wonderful
grain.” Now, it is never said that the peasant does not own this
tractor or this grain because it is a collective farm. He couldn’t have
it. It is not his. But the impression he gives to Americans, who
wouldn’t know any differently, is that certainly it is this peasant’s
private property, and that is how he lives, he has his own tractor and
his own grain. Then it shows miles and miles of plowed fields.

Chairman Thomas: We will have more order, please.

Rand: Am I speaking too fast?

Chairman Thomas: Go ahead.

Rand: Then —

Stripling: Miss Rand, may I bring up one point there?

Rand: Surely.

Stripling: I saw the picture. At this peasant’s village or home, was there a priest or several priests in evidence?

Rand: Oh, yes; I am coming to that, too. The priest was from
the beginning in the village scenes, having a position as sort of a
constant companion and friend of the peasants, as if religion was a
natural accepted part of that life. Well, now, as a matter of fact, the
situation about religion in Russia in my time was, and I understand it
still is, that for a Communist Party member to have anything to do with
religion means expulsion from the party. He is not allowed to enter a
church or take part in any religious ceremony. For a private citizen,
that is a nonparty member, it was permitted, but it was so frowned upon
that people had to keep it secret, if they went to church. If they
wanted a church wedding they usually had it privately in their homes,
with only a few friends present, in order not to let it be known at
their place of employment because, even though it was not forbidden,
the chances were that they would be thrown out of a job for being known
as practicing any kind of religion.

Now, then, to continue with the story, Robert Taylor proposes to the
heroine. She accepts him. They have a wedding, which, of course, is a
church wedding. It takes place with all the religious pomp which they
show. They have a banquet. They have dancers, in something like satin
skirts and performing ballets such as you never could possibly see in
any village and certainly not in Russia. Later they show a peasants’
meeting place, which is a kind of a marble palace with crystal
chandeliers. Where they got it or who built it for them I would like to
be told. Then later you see that the peasants all have radios. When the
heroine plays as a soloist with Robert Taylor’s orchestra, after she
marries him, you see a scene where all the peasants are listening on
radios, and one of them says, “There are more than millions listening
to the concert.”

I don’t know whether there are a hundred people in Russia, private
individuals, who own radios. And I remember reading in the newspaper at
the beginning of the war that every radio was seized by the government
and people were not allowed to own them. Such an idea that every
farmer, a poor peasant, has a radio, is certainly preposterous. You
also see that they have long-distance telephones. Later in the picture
Taylor has to call his wife in the village by long-distance telephone.
Where they got this long-distance phone, I don’t know.

Now, here comes the crucial point of the picture. In the midst of
this concert, when the heroine is playing, you see a scene on the
border of the U.S.S.R. You have a very lovely modernistic sign saying
“U.S.S.R.” I would just like to remind you that that is the border
where probably thousands of people have died trying to escape out of
this lovely paradise. It shows the U.S.S.R. sign, and there is a border
guard standing. He is listening to the concert. Then there is a scene
inside kind of a guardhouse where the guards are listening to the same
concert, the beautiful Tschaikowsky music, and they are playing chess.

Suddenly there is a Nazi attack on them. The poor, sweet Russians
were unprepared. Now, realize — and that was a great shock to me —
that the border that was being shown was the border of Poland. That was
the border of an occupied, destroyed, enslaved country which Hitler and
Stalin destroyed together. That was the border that was being shown to
us — just a happy place with people listening to music.

Also realize that when all this sweetness and light was going on in
the first part of the picture, with all these happy, free people, there
was not a GPU agent among them, with no food lines, no persecution —
complete freedom and happiness, with everybody smiling. Incidentally, I
have never seen so much smiling in my life, except on the murals of the
world’s fair pavilion of the Soviets. If any one of you have seen it,
you can appreciate it. It is one of the stock propaganda tricks of the
Communists, to show these people smiling. That is all they can show.
You have all this, plus the fact that an American conductor had
accepted an invitation to come there and conduct a concert, and this
took place in 1941 when Stalin was the ally of Hitler. That an American
would accept an invitation to that country was shocking to me, with
everything that was shown being proper and good and all those happy
people going around dancing, when Stalin was an ally of Hitler.

Now, then, the heroine decides that she wants to stay in Russia.
Taylor would like to take her out of the country, but she says no, her
place is here, she has to fight the war. Here is the line, as nearly
exact as I could mark it while watching the picture:

“I have a great responsibility to my family, to my village, and to the way I have lived.”

What way had she lived? This is just a polite way of saying the
Communist way of life. She goes on to say that she wants to stay in the
country because otherwise, “How can I help to build a better and better
life for my country.” What do you mean when you say better and better?
That means she has already helped to build a good way. That is the
Soviet Communist way. But now she wants to make it even better. All
right.

Now, then, Taylor’s manager, who is played, I believe, by Benchley,
an American, tells her that she should leave the country, but when she
refuses and wants to stay, here is the line he uses: he tells her in an
admiring friendly way that “You are a fool, but a lot of fools like you
died on the village green at Lexington.”

Now, I submit that that is blasphemy, because the men at Lexington
were not fighting just a foreign invader. They were fighting for
freedom and what I mean — and I intend to be exact — is they were
fighting for political freedom and individual freedom. They were
fighting for the rights of man. To compare them to somebody, anybody
fighting for a slave state, I think is dreadful. Then, later the girl
also says — I believe this was she or one of the other characters —
that “the culture we have been building here will never die.” What
culture? The culture of concentration camps.

At the end of the picture one of the Russians asks Taylor and the
girl to go back to America, because they can help them there. How? Here
is what he says, “You can go back to your country and tell them what
you have seen and you will see the truth both in speech and in music.”
Now, that is plainly saying that what you have seen is the truth about
Russia. That is what is in the picture.

Now, here is what I cannot understand at all: if the excuse that has
been given here is that we had to produce the picture in wartime, just
how can it help the war effort? If it is to deceive the American
people, if it were to present to the American people a better picture
of Russia than it really is, then that sort of an attitude is nothing
but the theory of the Nazi elite — that a choice group of intellectual
or other leaders will tell the people lies for their own good. That I
don’t think is the American way of giving people information. We do not
have to deceive the people at any time, in war or peace. If it was to
please the Russians, I don’t see how you can please the Russians by
telling them that we are fools. To what extent we have done it, you can
see right now. You can see the results right now. If we present a
picture like that as our version of what goes on in Russia, what will
they think of it? We don’t win anybody’s friendship. We will only win
their contempt, and as you know the Russians have been behaving like
this.

My whole point about the picture is this: I fully believe Mr. Mayer
when he says that he did not make a Communist picture. To do him
justice, I can tell you I noticed, by watching the picture, where there
was an effort to cut propaganda out. I believe he tried to cut
propaganda out of the picture, but the terrible thing is the
carelessness with ideas, not realizing that the mere presentation of
that kind of happy existence in a country of slavery and horror is
terrible because it is propaganda. You are telling people that it is
all right to live in a totalitarian state.

Now, I would like to say that nothing on earth will justify slavery.
In war or peace or at any time you cannot justify slavery. You cannot
tell people that it is all right to live under it and that everybody
there is happy. If you doubt this, I will just ask you one question.
Visualize a picture in your own mind as laid in Nazi Germany. If
anybody laid a plot just based on a pleasant little romance in Germany
and played Wagner music and said that people are just happy there,
would you say that that was propaganda or not, when you know what life
in Germany was and what kind of concentration camps they had there. You
would not dare to put just a happy love story into Germany, and for
every one of the same reasons you should not do it about Russia.

Stripling: That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Wood.

Rep. John S. Wood: I gather, then, from your analysis of this
picture your personal criticism of it is that it overplayed the
conditions that existed in Russia at the time the picture was made; is
that correct?

Rand: Did you say overplayed?

Wood: Yes.

Rand: Well, the story portrayed the people —

Wood: It portrayed the people of Russia in a better economic and social position than they occupied?

Rand: That is right.

Wood: And it would also leave the impression in the average
mind that they were better able to resist the aggression of the German
Army than they were in fact able to resist?

Rand: Well, that was not in the picture. So far as the Russian war was concerned, not very much was shown about it.

Wood: Well, you recall, I presume — it is a matter of
history — going back to the middle of the First World War when Russia
was also our ally against the same enemy that we were fighting at this
time and they were knocked out of the war. When the remnants of their
forces turned against us, it prolonged the First World War a
considerable time, didn’t it?

Rand: I don’t believe so.

Wood: You don’t?

Rand: No.

Wood: Do you think, then, that it was to our advantage or to
our disadvantage to keep Russia in this war, at the time this picture
was made?

Rand: That has absolutely nothing to do with what we are discussing.

Wood: Well —

Rand: But if you want me to answer, I can answer, but it will
take me a long time to say what I think, as to whether we should or
should not have had Russia on our side in the war. I can, but how much
time will you give me?

Wood: Well, do you say that it would have prolonged the war,
so far as we were concerned, if they had been knocked out of it at that
time?

Rand: I can’t answer that yes or no, unless you give me time for a long speech on it.

Wood: Well, there is a pretty strong probability that we wouldn’t have won it at all, isn’t there?

Rand: I don’t know, because on the other hand I think we
could have used the lend-lease supplies that we sent there to much
better advantage ourselves.

Wood: Well, at that time —

Rand: I don’t know. It is a question.

Wood: We were furnishing Russia with all the lend-lease equipment that our industry would stand, weren’t we?

Rand: That is right.

Wood: And continued to do it?

Rand: I am not sure it was at all wise. Now, if you want to discuss my military views — I am not an authority, but I will try.

Wood: What do you interpret, then, the picture as having been made for?

Rand: I ask you: what relation could a lie about Russia have
with the war effort? I would like to have somebody explain that to me,
because I really don’t understand it, why a lie would help anybody or
why it would keep Russia in or out of the war. How?

Wood: You don’t think it would have been of benefit to the American people to have kept them in?

Rand: I don’t believe the American people should ever be told
any lies, publicly or privately. I don’t believe that lies are
practical. I think the international situation now rather supports me.
I don’t think it was necessary to deceive the American people about the
nature of Russia. I could add this: if those who saw it say it was
quite all right, and perhaps there are reasons why it was all right to
be an ally of Russia, then why weren’t the American people told the
real reasons and told that Russia is a dictatorship but there are
reasons why we should cooperate with them to destroy Hitler and other
dictators? All right, there may be some argument to that. Let us hear
it. But of what help can it be to the war effort to tell people that we
should associate with Russia and that she is not a dictatorship?

Wood: Let me see if I understand your position. I understand,
from what you say, that because they were a dictatorship we shouldn’t
have accepted their help in undertaking to win a war against another
dictatorship.

Rand: That is not what I said. I was not in a position to
make that decision. If I were, I would tell you what I would do. That
is not what we are discussing. We are discussing the fact that our
country was an ally of Russia, and the question is: what should we tell
the American people about it — the truth or a lie? If we had good
reason, if that is what you believe, all right, then why not tell the
truth? Say it is a dictatorship, but we want to be associated with it.
Say it is worthwhile being associated with the devil, as Churchill
said, in order to defeat another evil which is Hitler. There might be
some good argument made for that. But why pretend that Russia was not
what it was?

Wood: Well —

Rand: What do you achieve by that?

Wood: Do you think it would have had as good an effect upon
the morale of the American people to preach a doctrine to them that
Russia was on the verge of collapse?

Rand: I don’t believe that the morale of anybody can be built
up by a lie. If there was nothing good that we could truthfully say
about Russia, then it would have been better not to say anything at all.

Wood: Well —

Rand: You don’t have to come out and denounce Russia during
the war; no. You can keep quiet. There is no moral guilt in not saying
something if you can’t say it, but there is in saying the opposite of
what is true.

Wood: Thank you. That is all.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Vail.

Rep. Richard B. Vail: No questions.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. McDowell.

Rep. John R. McDowell: You paint a very dismal picture of
Russia. You made a great point about the number of children who were
unhappy. Doesn’t anybody smile in Russia any more?

Rand: Well, if you ask me literally, pretty much no.

McDowell: They don’t smile?

Rand: Not quite that way; no. If they do, it is privately and
accidentally. Certainly, it is not social. They don’t smile in approval
of their system.

McDowell: Well, all they do is talk about food.

Rand: That is right.

McDowell: That is a great change from the Russians I have
always known, and I have known a lot of them. Don’t they do things at
all like Americans? Don’t they walk across town to visit their
mother-in-law or somebody?

Rand: Look, it is very hard to explain. It is almost
impossible to convey to a free people what it is like to live in a
totalitarian dictatorship. I can tell you a lot of details. I can never
completely convince you, because you are free. It is in a way good that
you can’t even conceive of what it is like. Certainly they have friends
and mothers-in-law. They try to live a human life, but you understand
it is totally inhuman. Try to imagine what it is like if you are in
constant terror from morning till night and at night you are waiting
for the doorbell to ring, where you are afraid of anything and
everybody, living in a country where human life is nothing, less than
nothing, and you know it. You don’t know who or when is going to do
what to you because you may have friends who spy on you, where there is
no law and any rights of any kind.

McDowell: You came here in 1926, I believe you said. Did you escape from Russia?

Rand: No.

McDowell: Did you have a passport?

Rand: No. Strangely enough, they gave me a passport to come out here as a visitor.

McDowell: As a visitor?

Rand: It was at a time when they relaxed their orders a
little bit. Quite a few people got out. I had some relatives here and I
was permitted to come here for a year. I never went back.

McDowell: I see.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Nixon.

Rep. Richard M. Nixon: No questions.

Chairman Thomas: All right. The first witness tomorrow morning will be Adolph Menjou.Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, Chairman of the Committee: Raise your
right hand, please, Miss Rand. Do you solemnly swear the testimony you
are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you God?

Ayn Rand: I do.

Chairman Thomas: Sit down.

Mr. Robert E. Stripling, Chief Investigator: Miss Rand, will you state your name, please, for the record?

Rand: Ayn Rand, or Mrs. Frank O’Connor.

Stripling: That is A-y-n?

Rand: That is right.

Stripling: R-a-n-d?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Is that your pen name?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: And what is your married name?

Rand: Mrs. Frank O’Connor.

Stripling: Where were you born, Miss Rand?

Rand: In St. Petersburg, Russia.

Stripling: When did you leave Russia?

Rand: In 1926.

Stripling: How long have you been employed in Hollywood?

Rand: I have been in pictures on and off since late in 1926,
but specifically as a writer this time I have been in Hollywood since
late 1943 and am now under contract as a writer.

Stripling: Have you written various novels?

Rand: One second. May I have one moment to get this in order?

Stripling: Yes.

Rand: Yes, I have written two novels. My first one was called We the Living, which was a story about Soviet Russia and was published in 1936. The second one was The Fountainhead, published in 1943.

Stripling: Was that a best seller — The Fountainhead?

Rand: Yes; thanks to the American public.

Stripling: Do you know how many copies were sold?

Rand: The last I heard was 360,000 copies. I think there have been some more since.

Stripling: You have been employed as a writer in Hollywood?

Rand: Yes; I am under contract at present.

Stripling: Could you name some of the stories or scripts you have written for Hollywood?

Rand: I have done the script of The Fountainhead,
which has not been produced yet, for Warner Brothers, and two
adaptations for Hal Wallis Productions, at Paramount, which were not my
stories but on which I did the screen plays, which were Love Letters and You Came Along.

Stripling: Now, Miss Rand, you have heard the testimony of Mr. [Louis B.] Mayer?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: You have read the letter I read from Lowell Mellett?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Which says that the picture Song of Russia has no political implications?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Did you at the request of Mr. Smith, the investigator for this committee, view the picture Song of Russia?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Within the past two weeks?

Rand: Yes; on October 13, to be exact.

Stripling: In Hollywood?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Would you give the committee a break-down of your
summary of the picture relating to either propaganda or an untruthful
account or distorted account of conditions in Russia?

Rand: Yes.

First of all I would like to define what we mean by propaganda. We have all been talking about it, but nobody —

Stripling: Could you talk into the microphone?

Rand: Can you hear me now? Nobody has stated just what they
mean by propaganda. Now, I use the term to mean that Communist
propaganda is anything which gives a good impression of communism as a
way of life. Anything that sells people the idea that life in Russia is
good and that people are free and happy would be Communist propaganda.
Am I not correct? I mean, would that be a fair statement to make —
that that would be Communist propaganda?

Now, here is what the picture Song of Russia contains. It
starts with an American conductor, played by Robert Taylor, giving a
concert in America for Russian war relief. He starts playing the
American national anthem and the national anthem dissolves into a
Russian mob, with the sickle and hammer on a red flag very prominent
above their heads. I am sorry, but that made me sick. That is something
which I do not see how native Americans permit, and I am only a
naturalized American. That was a terrible touch of propaganda. As a
writer, I can tell you just exactly what it suggests to the people. It
suggests literally and technically that it is quite all right for the
American national anthem to dissolve into the Soviet. The term here is
more than just technical. It really was symbolically intended, and it
worked out that way. The anthem continues, played by a Soviet band.
That is the beginning of the picture.

Now we go to the pleasant love story. Mr. Taylor is an American who
came there apparently voluntarily to conduct concerts for the Soviets.
He meets a little Russian girl from a village who comes to him and begs
him to go to her village to direct concerts there. There are no GPU
agents and nobody stops her. She just comes to Moscow and meets him. He
falls for her and decides he will go, because he is falling in love. He
asks her to show him Moscow. She says she has never seen it. He says,
“I will show it to YOU.” They see it together. The picture then goes
into a scene of Moscow, supposedly. I don’t know where the studio got
its shots, but I have never seen anything like it in Russia. First you
see Moscow buildings — big, prosperous-looking, clean buildings, with
something like swans or sailboats in the foreground. Then you see a
Moscow restaurant that just never existed there. In my time, when I was
in Russia, there was only one such restaurant, which was nowhere as
luxurious as that and no one could enter it except commissars and
profiteers. Certainly a girl from a village, who in the first place
would never have been allowed to come voluntarily, without permission,
to Moscow, could not afford to enter it, even if she worked ten years.
However, there is a Russian restaurant with a menu such as never
existed in Russia at all and which I doubt even existed before the
revolution. From this restaurant they go on to this tour of Moscow. The
streets are clean and prosperous-looking. There are no food lines
anywhere. You see shots of the marble subway — the famous Russian
subway out of which they make such propaganda capital. There is a
marble statue of Stalin thrown in. There is a park where you see happy
little children in white blouses running around. I don’t know whose
children they are, but they are really happy kiddies. They are not
homeless children in rags, such as I have seen in Russia. Then you see
an excursion boat, on which the Russian people are smiling, sitting
around very cheerfully, dressed in some sort of satin blouses such as
they only wear in Russian restaurants here. Then they attend a
luxurious dance. I don’t know where they got the idea of the clothes
and the settings that they used at the ball and —

Stripling: Is that a ballroom scene?

Rand: Yes; the ballroom — where they dance. It was an
exaggeration even for this country. I have never seen anybody wearing
such clothes and dancing to such exotic music when I was there. Of
course, it didn’t say whose ballroom it is or how they get there. But
there they are — free and dancing very happily.

Incidentally, I must say at this point that I understand from
correspondents who have left Russia and been there later than I was and
from people who escaped from there later than I did that the time I saw
it, which was in 1926, was the best time since the Russian revolution.
At that time conditions were a little better than they have become
since. In my time we were a bunch of ragged, starved, dirty, miserable
people who had only two thoughts in our mind. That was our complete
terror — afraid to look at one another, afraid to say anything for
fear of who is listening and would report us — and where to get the
next meal. You have no idea what it means to live in a country where
nobody has any concern except food, where all the conversation is about
food because everybody is so hungry that that is all they can think
about and that is all they can afford to do. They have no idea of
politics. They have no idea of any pleasant romances or love-nothing
but food and fear. That is what I saw up to 1926. That is not what the
picture shows.

Now, after this tour of Moscow, the hero — the American conductor
— goes to the Soviet village. The Russian villages are something — so
miserable and so filthy. They were even before the revolution. They
weren’t much even then. What they have become now I am afraid to think.
You have all read about the program for the collectivization of the
farms in 1933, at which time the Soviet Government admits that three
million peasants died of starvation. Other people claim there were
seven and a half million, but three million is the figure admitted by
the Soviet Government as the figure of people who died of starvation,
planned by the government in order to drive people into collective
farms. That is a recorded historical fact.

Now, here is the life in the Soviet village as presented in Song of Russia.
You see the happy peasants. You see they are meeting the hero at the
station with bands, with beautiful blouses and shoes, such as they
never wore anywhere. You see children with operetta costumes on them
and with a brass band which they could never afford. You see the
manicured starlets driving tractors and the happy women who come from
work singing. You see a peasant at home with a close-up of food for
which anyone there would have been murdered. If anybody had such food
in Russia in that time he couldn’t remain alive, because he would have
been torn apart by neighbors trying to get food. But here is a close-up
of it and a line where Robert Taylor comments on the food and the
peasant answers, “This is just a simple country table and the food we
eat ourselves.”

Then the peasant proceeds to show Taylor how they live. He shows him
his wonderful tractor. It is parked somewhere in his private garage. He
shows him the grain in his bin, and Taylor says, “That is wonderful
grain.” Now, it is never said that the peasant does not own this
tractor or this grain because it is a collective farm. He couldn’t have
it. It is not his. But the impression he gives to Americans, who
wouldn’t know any differently, is that certainly it is this peasant’s
private property, and that is how he lives, he has his own tractor and
his own grain. Then it shows miles and miles of plowed fields.

Chairman Thomas: We will have more order, please.

Rand: Am I speaking too fast?

Chairman Thomas: Go ahead.

Rand: Then —

Stripling: Miss Rand, may I bring up one point there?

Rand: Surely.

Stripling: I saw the picture. At this peasant’s village or home, was there a priest or several priests in evidence?

Rand: Oh, yes; I am coming to that, too. The priest was from
the beginning in the village scenes, having a position as sort of a
constant companion and friend of the peasants, as if religion was a
natural accepted part of that life. Well, now, as a matter of fact, the
situation about religion in Russia in my time was, and I understand it
still is, that for a Communist Party member to have anything to do with
religion means expulsion from the party. He is not allowed to enter a
church or take part in any religious ceremony. For a private citizen,
that is a nonparty member, it was permitted, but it was so frowned upon
that people had to keep it secret, if they went to church. If they
wanted a church wedding they usually had it privately in their homes,
with only a few friends present, in order not to let it be known at
their place of employment because, even though it was not forbidden,
the chances were that they would be thrown out of a job for being known
as practicing any kind of religion.

Now, then, to continue with the story, Robert Taylor proposes to the
heroine. She accepts him. They have a wedding, which, of course, is a
church wedding. It takes place with all the religious pomp which they
show. They have a banquet. They have dancers, in something like satin
skirts and performing ballets such as you never could possibly see in
any village and certainly not in Russia. Later they show a peasants’
meeting place, which is a kind of a marble palace with crystal
chandeliers. Where they got it or who built it for them I would like to
be told. Then later you see that the peasants all have radios. When the
heroine plays as a soloist with Robert Taylor’s orchestra, after she
marries him, you see a scene where all the peasants are listening on
radios, and one of them says, “There are more than millions listening
to the concert.”

I don’t know whether there are a hundred people in Russia, private
individuals, who own radios. And I remember reading in the newspaper at
the beginning of the war that every radio was seized by the government
and people were not allowed to own them. Such an idea that every
farmer, a poor peasant, has a radio, is certainly preposterous. You
also see that they have long-distance telephones. Later in the picture
Taylor has to call his wife in the village by long-distance telephone.
Where they got this long-distance phone, I don’t know.

Now, here comes the crucial point of the picture. In the midst of
this concert, when the heroine is playing, you see a scene on the
border of the U.S.S.R. You have a very lovely modernistic sign saying
“U.S.S.R.” I would just like to remind you that that is the border
where probably thousands of people have died trying to escape out of
this lovely paradise. It shows the U.S.S.R. sign, and there is a border
guard standing. He is listening to the concert. Then there is a scene
inside kind of a guardhouse where the guards are listening to the same
concert, the beautiful Tschaikowsky music, and they are playing chess.

Suddenly there is a Nazi attack on them. The poor, sweet Russians
were unprepared. Now, realize — and that was a great shock to me —
that the border that was being shown was the border of Poland. That was
the border of an occupied, destroyed, enslaved country which Hitler and
Stalin destroyed together. That was the border that was being shown to
us — just a happy place with people listening to music.

Also realize that when all this sweetness and light was going on in
the first part of the picture, with all these happy, free people, there
was not a GPU agent among them, with no food lines, no persecution —
complete freedom and happiness, with everybody smiling. Incidentally, I
have never seen so much smiling in my life, except on the murals of the
world’s fair pavilion of the Soviets. If any one of you have seen it,
you can appreciate it. It is one of the stock propaganda tricks of the
Communists, to show these people smiling. That is all they can show.
You have all this, plus the fact that an American conductor had
accepted an invitation to come there and conduct a concert, and this
took place in 1941 when Stalin was the ally of Hitler. That an American
would accept an invitation to that country was shocking to me, with
everything that was shown being proper and good and all those happy
people going around dancing, when Stalin was an ally of Hitler.

Now, then, the heroine decides that she wants to stay in Russia.
Taylor would like to take her out of the country, but she says no, her
place is here, she has to fight the war. Here is the line, as nearly
exact as I could mark it while watching the picture:

“I have a great responsibility to my family, to my village, and to the way I have lived.”

What way had she lived? This is just a polite way of saying the
Communist way of life. She goes on to say that she wants to stay in the
country because otherwise, “How can I help to build a better and better
life for my country.” What do you mean when you say better and better?
That means she has already helped to build a good way. That is the
Soviet Communist way. But now she wants to make it even better. All
right.

Now, then, Taylor’s manager, who is played, I believe, by Benchley,
an American, tells her that she should leave the country, but when she
refuses and wants to stay, here is the line he uses: he tells her in an
admiring friendly way that “You are a fool, but a lot of fools like you
died on the village green at Lexington.”

Now, I submit that that is blasphemy, because the men at Lexington
were not fighting just a foreign invader. They were fighting for
freedom and what I mean — and I intend to be exact — is they were
fighting for political freedom and individual freedom. They were
fighting for the rights of man. To compare them to somebody, anybody
fighting for a slave state, I think is dreadful. Then, later the girl
also says — I believe this was she or one of the other characters —
that “the culture we have been building here will never die.” What
culture? The culture of concentration camps.

At the end of the picture one of the Russians asks Taylor and the
girl to go back to America, because they can help them there. How? Here
is what he says, “You can go back to your country and tell them what
you have seen and you will see the truth both in speech and in music.”
Now, that is plainly saying that what you have seen is the truth about
Russia. That is what is in the picture.

Now, here is what I cannot understand at all: if the excuse that has
been given here is that we had to produce the picture in wartime, just
how can it help the war effort? If it is to deceive the American
people, if it were to present to the American people a better picture
of Russia than it really is, then that sort of an attitude is nothing
but the theory of the Nazi elite — that a choice group of intellectual
or other leaders will tell the people lies for their own good. That I
don’t think is the American way of giving people information. We do not
have to deceive the people at any time, in war or peace. If it was to
please the Russians, I don’t see how you can please the Russians by
telling them that we are fools. To what extent we have done it, you can
see right now. You can see the results right now. If we present a
picture like that as our version of what goes on in Russia, what will
they think of it? We don’t win anybody’s friendship. We will only win
their contempt, and as you know the Russians have been behaving like
this.

My whole point about the picture is this: I fully believe Mr. Mayer
when he says that he did not make a Communist picture. To do him
justice, I can tell you I noticed, by watching the picture, where there
was an effort to cut propaganda out. I believe he tried to cut
propaganda out of the picture, but the terrible thing is the
carelessness with ideas, not realizing that the mere presentation of
that kind of happy existence in a country of slavery and horror is
terrible because it is propaganda. You are telling people that it is
all right to live in a totalitarian state.

Now, I would like to say that nothing on earth will justify slavery.
In war or peace or at any time you cannot justify slavery. You cannot
tell people that it is all right to live under it and that everybody
there is happy. If you doubt this, I will just ask you one question.
Visualize a picture in your own mind as laid in Nazi Germany. If
anybody laid a plot just based on a pleasant little romance in Germany
and played Wagner music and said that people are just happy there,
would you say that that was propaganda or not, when you know what life
in Germany was and what kind of concentration camps they had there. You
would not dare to put just a happy love story into Germany, and for
every one of the same reasons you should not do it about Russia.

Stripling: That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Wood.

Rep. John S. Wood: I gather, then, from your analysis of this
picture your personal criticism of it is that it overplayed the
conditions that existed in Russia at the time the picture was made; is
that correct?

Rand: Did you say overplayed?

Wood: Yes.

Rand: Well, the story portrayed the people —

Wood: It portrayed the people of Russia in a better economic and social position than they occupied?

Rand: That is right.

Wood: And it would also leave the impression in the average
mind that they were better able to resist the aggression of the German
Army than they were in fact able to resist?

Rand: Well, that was not in the picture. So far as the Russian war was concerned, not very much was shown about it.

Wood: Well, you recall, I presume — it is a matter of
history — going back to the middle of the First World War when Russia
was also our ally against the same enemy that we were fighting at this
time and they were knocked out of the war. When the remnants of their
forces turned against us, it prolonged the First World War a
considerable time, didn’t it?

Rand: I don’t believe so.

Wood: You don’t?

Rand: No.

Wood: Do you think, then, that it was to our advantage or to
our disadvantage to keep Russia in this war, at the time this picture
was made?

Rand: That has absolutely nothing to do with what we are discussing.

Wood: Well —

Rand: But if you want me to answer, I can answer, but it will
take me a long time to say what I think, as to whether we should or
should not have had Russia on our side in the war. I can, but how much
time will you give me?

Wood: Well, do you say that it would have prolonged the war,
so far as we were concerned, if they had been knocked out of it at that
time?

Rand: I can’t answer that yes or no, unless you give me time for a long speech on it.

Wood: Well, there is a pretty strong probability that we wouldn’t have won it at all, isn’t there?

Rand: I don’t know, because on the other hand I think we
could have used the lend-lease supplies that we sent there to much
better advantage ourselves.

Wood: Well, at that time —

Rand: I don’t know. It is a question.

Wood: We were furnishing Russia with all the lend-lease equipment that our industry would stand, weren’t we?

Rand: That is right.

Wood: And continued to do it?

Rand: I am not sure it was at all wise. Now, if you want to discuss my military views — I am not an authority, but I will try.

Wood: What do you interpret, then, the picture as having been made for?

Rand: I ask you: what relation could a lie about Russia have
with the war effort? I would like to have somebody explain that to me,
because I really don’t understand it, why a lie would help anybody or
why it would keep Russia in or out of the war. How?

Wood: You don’t think it would have been of benefit to the American people to have kept them in?

Rand: I don’t believe the American people should ever be told
any lies, publicly or privately. I don’t believe that lies are
practical. I think the international situation now rather supports me.
I don’t think it was necessary to deceive the American people about the
nature of Russia. I could add this: if those who saw it say it was
quite all right, and perhaps there are reasons why it was all right to
be an ally of Russia, then why weren’t the American people told the
real reasons and told that Russia is a dictatorship but there are
reasons why we should cooperate with them to destroy Hitler and other
dictators? All right, there may be some argument to that. Let us hear
it. But of what help can it be to the war effort to tell people that we
should associate with Russia and that she is not a dictatorship?

Wood: Let me see if I understand your position. I understand,
from what you say, that because they were a dictatorship we shouldn’t
have accepted their help in undertaking to win a war against another
dictatorship.

Rand: That is not what I said. I was not in a position to
make that decision. If I were, I would tell you what I would do. That
is not what we are discussing. We are discussing the fact that our
country was an ally of Russia, and the question is: what should we tell
the American people about it — the truth or a lie? If we had good
reason, if that is what you believe, all right, then why not tell the
truth? Say it is a dictatorship, but we want to be associated with it.
Say it is worthwhile being associated with the devil, as Churchill
said, in order to defeat another evil which is Hitler. There might be
some good argument made for that. But why pretend that Russia was not
what it was?

Wood: Well —

Rand: What do you achieve by that?

Wood: Do you think it would have had as good an effect upon
the morale of the American people to preach a doctrine to them that
Russia was on the verge of collapse?

Rand: I don’t believe that the morale of anybody can be built
up by a lie. If there was nothing good that we could truthfully say
about Russia, then it would have been better not to say anything at all.

Wood: Well —

Rand: You don’t have to come out and denounce Russia during
the war; no. You can keep quiet. There is no moral guilt in not saying
something if you can’t say it, but there is in saying the opposite of
what is true.

Wood: Thank you. That is all.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Vail.

Rep. Richard B. Vail: No questions.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. McDowell.

Rep. John R. McDowell: You paint a very dismal picture of
Russia. You made a great point about the number of children who were
unhappy. Doesn’t anybody smile in Russia any more?

Rand: Well, if you ask me literally, pretty much no.

McDowell: They don’t smile?

Rand: Not quite that way; no. If they do, it is privately and
accidentally. Certainly, it is not social. They don’t smile in approval
of their system.

McDowell: Well, all they do is talk about food.

Rand: That is right.

McDowell: That is a great change from the Russians I have
always known, and I have known a lot of them. Don’t they do things at
all like Americans? Don’t they walk across town to visit their
mother-in-law or somebody?

Rand: Look, it is very hard to explain. It is almost
impossible to convey to a free people what it is like to live in a
totalitarian dictatorship. I can tell you a lot of details. I can never
completely convince you, because you are free. It is in a way good that
you can’t even conceive of what it is like. Certainly they have friends
and mothers-in-law. They try to live a human life, but you understand
it is totally inhuman. Try to imagine what it is like if you are in
constant terror from morning till night and at night you are waiting
for the doorbell to ring, where you are afraid of anything and
everybody, living in a country where human life is nothing, less than
nothing, and you know it. You don’t know who or when is going to do
what to you because you may have friends who spy on you, where there is
no law and any rights of any kind.

McDowell: You came here in 1926, I believe you said. Did you escape from Russia?

Rand: No.

McDowell: Did you have a passport?

Rand: No. Strangely enough, they gave me a passport to come out here as a visitor.

McDowell: As a visitor?

Rand: It was at a time when they relaxed their orders a
little bit. Quite a few people got out. I had some relatives here and I
was permitted to come here for a year. I never went back.

McDowell: I see.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Nixon.

Rep. Richard M. Nixon: No questions.

Chairman Thomas: All right. The first witness tomorrow morning will be Adolph Menjou.

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