Skip to main content

Full text of "1943 Annual Report"

See other formats





^Annual %eport — 1943 


200 West S7tk Street, TSTew York City 

947.08506 AM3 1943 MAIN 

American Russian Cultural Association, Inc. 

oAnnual %eport ~ 1943 

HE fall and winter season of 1943 completes the first full year 
of activity of the American Russian Cultural Association, Inc. For, 
though the first idea was conceived in the spring of 1942, it was 
only after some lime spent in exploratory and organizational de- 
velopment that American Russian Cultural Association became a 
corporate body capable of harnessing and directing the enthusiastic 
energies of its original members and directors. 

The timeliness of the inception of the American Russian Cul- 
tural Association was immediately apparent in a widespread and 
rapid growth in individual membership, and in the springing up, 
during its first year, of other organizations, serving to create in this 
country a powerful popular surge away from prejudice and toward 

It is gratifying to note that within the critical year just passed, 
at a moment when world events had made closer association between 
Russia and America imperative, an independent movement within 
the people to establish this association on a cultural basis preceded 
the formal diplomatic, economic and military actions. 

It was natural that ARCA, pioneering in this movement be 
born in America traditional land of the pioneer, and that its 
projected span into the future reach across the sea to find a firm 
abutment in the Soviet Union — vast scene of the world's first large 
scale experiment in human brotherhood. 

Formed in the realization of a pressing need of the people in 
America and Russia for a new understanding to light the way into 
a fast approaching common future, ARCA, itself strictly non- 
political, welcomes and cooperates during this crucial time with all 
organizations which work towards this goal. 

Circulation of the Association's aims and purposes soon brought 
a hearty response from active individual leaders in various cultural 
fields in America, and, as the mutual worlc and planning gathered 



momentum* there was induced, in groups and among individuals, a 
new or revivified spirit of cooperation, whick ARCA's founders be- 
lieve to be the necessary foundation For any surviving society and 
which is now, in fact, broadly replacing competition. Within a few 
weeks an Advisory Board was formed, consisting of: 

Honorary President 









In accepting the Honorary Presidency, Professor Nicholas 
Roerich suggested using widely the initials of the Association. 
ARCA. which constitute a Russian word meaning "arc". Thus, the 
name itself is a symbol of light and power, associated with the 
electric sparlc and the welding torch; of faith and beauty, associated 
with the rainbow; of achievement and brotherhood, associated with 
the arch and the bridge. 

In informal discussions, correspondence and meetings which 
took place during the formative period, plans began to evolve for a 
great variety of projects, some of which marked successful achieve- 
ments early in ARCA's career. 

The special Christmas-New Year s issue of "Novosselye", under 
the auspices of the Association in cooperation with its editor, Mrs, 
Sophie Pregel, a member of ARCA's Board of Directors, was one of 
the most significant of those projects. The idea was an ambitious 
one ' to present between the covers of one issue of the Russian 
Literary Monthly a symposium on American cultural life from the 
pens of leading Americans in the fields of literature, poetry, current 
history and economics, art, music and science. It was felt that, 
while some aspects of Russian culture are not new to America, or 
offer no difficulty of presentation, modern Russia has not had ade- 
quate opportunity to realize the true scope of American culture. 


Because the idea was so ambitious there was the more gratification 
upon its very full realization. It was an immediate step directly 
towards the primary aim of the American Russian Cultural Associa- 
tion >-> a mutual enlightenment and cultural exchange between the 
peoples of Russia and America. Since ARCA is an American 
organization, it was appropriate that the first gesture in the reciprocal 
action originated here. Steps have been taken to provide a sequel in 
the way of a Russian cultural symposium for American readers to 
be published here in 1944. 

Of the one hundred twenty-five distinguished Americans ap- 
proached, only a few failed to respond cordially and enthusiastically. 
Many, of course, were unable to send material upon such short 
notice, but almost all were heartily in accord with the aims of 
ARCA and quite a number expressed a desire to cooperate and 
contribute material for subsequent undertakings. 

A study of the list of contributors to the ARCA-sponsored 
issue of "Novosselye will furnish an idea of the comprehensive 
scope of the material presented. The following are, we feel, rather 
well representative of American cultural life: 








Near the end of November a letter was received from Dr. 
Dudley Crafts Watson, member of the Honorary Board of the Amer- 
ican Russian Cultural Association, offering to give a lecture on 
"Russia's Art Contribution to America". His offer was accepted with 
appreciation, and preparations were started for his lecture, which was 
given on January 9, 1943, at Carnegie Chamber Music Hall. It 
was well attended by a receptive audience. 

On March 28th. 1943. at the home of Mrs. Samuel L. M. 
Barlow, member of the Ho norary Board, the Directors of the Associ- 
ation presented an interesting lecture and musical program at an 
informal gathering of members and friends. The meeting was 


opened by Dudley Fosdick, President, who, after greeting the 
guests, paid a tribute to Maxim Gorki, upon whose anniversary dale 
the meeting occurred. 

J. J. Weed, Chairman for the occasion, reviewed the purposes 
and development of the American Russian Cultural Association 
and introduced the participants and features in the program which 

Marc Slonim delivered the main address, an illuminating lec- 
ture on "The Culture of Russia", which was warmly received by 
those present. 

Following the lecture, Alfred Kreymborg read several of his 
poems, which were greatly appreciated, including "To the Soviet 
Union *, his contribution to the ARCA issue of "Novosselye". 

Efim Vitis sang a group of the latest Soviet songs, with piano 
accompaniment by J. Eisenberg, which were so much enjoyed Lhal 
several encores were necessary. 

An interesting opportunity for service was presented to ARCA 
when in April 1943 a request was received from one of the Public 
Schools for help in organizing meetings for the discussion of Russian 
culture for the benefit of students. The first meeting was held 
April 6, 1943, in the ARCA quarters, at which time Sina Fosdick, 
member of the Board, held a two-hour session for a large number of 
pupils. On June 16th, Mr. and Mrs. Fosdick made a visit to this 
school and talked to the students on art, museums and sport activi- 
ties in Soviet Russia. After both occasions individual letters were 
received from all the pupils expressing gratitude and continuing 
interest. Subsequently, these letters found their way directly to the 
Soviet Union. 

At about the same time, upon request of the Defense Director 
of a large High School in Brooklyn, ARCA arranged for them an 
exhibition "Russia in War Time and in Peace Time", The material 
used in the exhibit consisted of action photographs, stills from well- 
known films, photographs taken on the Russian front, photograph! 
of sport activities during peace time, and a set of cartoons, After 
a run of several weeks at the High School, the exhibit was sent to 
one of the Brooklyn Public Schools. The exhibition material is 
being augmented from time to time as ARCA collects additional 
items and incorporates them in the exhibits. 

On October 8th, ARCA sent to the 115th Street Harlem 
Branch of the Public Library exhibition material consisting of photo- 


graphs: "Coal for Moscow", "Russians in War and Peace", several 
"Tass Windows", posters and photo panels. This material remained 
there on view for three weeks. 

An exhibition, consisting of "Tass Windows '. photo panels and 
a series of photographs depicting 'Russia at War*', and "The Siege 
of Leningrad \ was sent to the Hartley House on October 15th, 
where the exhibition remained until October 28th. On the opening 
night of the exhibition, October 15th, Mrs. Olga Lang gave a talk 
on "Soviet Youth", which was followed by an open forum. It was 
well attended and appreciated by the audience. 

On October 28th, Mr. Walter Grueninger of The American 
Red Cross at Camp Shanks. N. Y., took the material, which had 
been returned by the Hartley House, to Camp Shanks Hospital, 
where approximately seven hundred hospitalized soldiers saw the 
exhibition. Moreover, within the following month, several Soviet 
films were show to the camp and. during that time, the exhibition 
was hung in the hall where the films were shown, so that the entire 
camp could view it. The camp has approximately 60.000 to 65.000 
soldiers, and comments on the exhibition were numerous and 

On November 21st, the American Russian Cultural Association 
presented an illustrated lecture by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
Dana on "The Theatre in Russia in War and Peace". Preceding 
the lecture, there was a brief introductory talk by Mr. Joseph Weed, 
member of the Board. The audience attending the lecture com- 
pletely filled the ARCA Hall. Professor Dana showed over one 
hundred slides depicting the history of the Soviet Theatre and 
notable stage productions in Russia during the last twenty-five 
years. The response of the audience was highly enthusiastic and 
many favorable comments were received. Professor Dana kindly 
agreed to waive his fee on this occasion, and the net proceeds from 
the lecture were contributed to the aid of the children of Stalingrad, 
through the Ambijan Committee, which is in charge of Aid to 
Russian War Orphans. 

The occasion of the Dana Lecture on November 21st also marked 
the opening by the American Russian Cultural Association of an 
exhibit in its own quarters of splendid material received from VOKS 
^- Moscow, consisting of photographs of ancient sites and historic 
monuments of Pskov. Novgorod, Kalinin, Kaluga; great monasteries 
of Russia, such as "New Jerusalem" and the "Joseph- Volokolamsk 


Monastery", the Cathedral of the Saviour Transfigured" at Cherni- 
gov; palaces and environs of Peterhof, Tsarskoye-Selo. Pavlovsk, 
Leningrad; also the Museums of Tolstoi, Tschailtowsky, Chekhov 
and others; as well as photographs of schools, theatres and other 
educational buildings before the war and after their destruction. 
This unusual photographic material was mounted on special panels 
built to order for this purpose, and also hung on the walls of the 
ARCA Studios. The large audience which attended Professor 
Dana's lecture was greatly impressed by the exhibition and stayed 
after the lecture to view it. This exhibition at the ARCA Studios 
remained open to the public until January 1, 1944. Thereafter, it is 
to be sent on a circuit of other educational institutions in and out 
of New York City. 

On December 2nd. an exhibition consisting of five "lass Win- 
dows . twenty-eight photographs from the series: Siege of Lenin- 
grad "; fifteen photographs from the series: "Coal for Moscow"; 
forty-seven photographs — ' Leningrad during the Blockade and 
one photo panel, was sent to Sarah Lawrence College. Bronxville. 
N. Y., to remain there on view for two weeks. Mr. Marc Slonim. 
member of the boaro! of ARCA and lecturer on European and 
Russian Literature at Sarah Lawrence College, arranged this ex- 
hibition and gave a special introductory talk at the opening. 

On December 12th, ARCA presented a lecture by Marc Slonim 
on "Soviet Russia's Literature in War". This event drew a large 
audience which was enthusiastic to Professor Slonim's scholarly 
presentation of his theme. Professor Slonim was introduced by Mr. 
Joseph Weed, and after the lecture answered questions from the 
audience. Professor Slonim graciously consented to waive his fee 
on this occasion, and the net proceeds from the lecture were donated 
by ARCA to the Ambijan Committee for relief for Russian War 
Orphans. A check was sent to Mr. Budich, Chairman of the 
Ambijan Committee, who has acknowledged the total sum of $101.40 
donated by ARCA to the aid of Stalingrad children. 

To celebrate the successful conclusion of this first year, a re- 
ception and musicale was held by ARCA on December 26, 1943. 
A Cantata, "We'll Answer Stalingrad" by Charles Kingsford, 
performed for the first time and especially arranged for vocal quartet 
with the composer at the piano, was beautifully interpreted, and the 
audience responded to it with great enthusiasm. The full score for 
orchestra and chorus has been photostated and is being sent to 


Miss Vera Bryner, accompanied by Mr. Valentin Pavlovsky, 
sang two groups of songs by modern Russian composers, and Mr. 
Efim Vitis, accompanied by Mr. Aran Pressman, sang also two 
groups of songs by Soviet composers. Miss Bryner and Mr. Vitis 
also sang two duets, accompanied by Mr. Pressman at the piano. 
The excellent performance of all these compositions was greatly 
enjoyed by the audience, which recalled both artists several times. 

Mr. Joseph Weed opened the program by introducing Hon. 
Eugene D. Kisselev, Consul General of the U.S.S.R., at New York 
City who gave a welcoming address praising the work of ARCA in 
helping to bring about cultural unity between the United States 
and Soviet Russia. The program was then taken over by Mrs. D. 
Fosdick, who gave brief resumes and comments on the texts of the 
Russian songs on the program. 

An excellent review of the ARCA Reception and Musicale 
appeared in the New York Times on Monday, January 27th, 
praising especially the Cantata by Charles Kingsford and its per- 
formance. ARCA also arranged to have this Cantata performed in 
Carnegie Hall on January 28th at the Stalingrad Festival presented 
by the Ambijan Committee. Mr. Kingsford was at the piano and 
the vocal quarlet was composed of the same artists who gave such a 
splendid rendition of the Cantata at its first performance at the 
ARCA musicale. The composition was again very well received by 
the audience. On the same program, the Stalingrad Festival in 
Carnegie Hall, there appeared two soloists from the Ballet Russe de 
Monte Carlo who gave brilliant solo dances, The Ambijan Com- 
mittee thanked ARCA for arranging also this part of the program, 
and acknowledged gratefully ARCA's cooperation. 

During this past year, much information has been dispensed by 
American Russian Cultural Association in response to inquiries 
received from schools, colleges and magazines of nation-wide circula- 

ARCA has been consulted extensively by representatives of 
leading motion picture companies in connection with films about 
Russia currently in production. Mr. V. Antonoff, in an interview 
with Mrs. Fosdick shortly after his arrival in the United States last 
summer, gave a comprehensive picture and understanding of the film 
industry of the present day in the U.S.S.R, 


The Russian language courses initiated by Dr. E. Markoff, 
member of trie Board of ARCA, in the spring of 1943, are being 
continued under the Association s auspices. Classes and private 
instruction are in progress under Mrs. O. Lang ana Mrs, O. 
Domanevsky. Dr. Markoff, who is also a professor of the Ecole Libre 
des Hautes Etudes in New York, held the summer session in the 
Russian language at Columbia University. 

The Board of Directors wishes to express its deep appreciation 
to the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, in 
Moscow, U.S.S.R., for the splendid material received from them 
covering all phases of culture in the Soviet Union. 

The Directors are gTateful to the members of the Honorary Board 
who contributed whole-heartedly in time, thought and otherwise 
to the success of this first year of activity of the American Russian 
Cultural Association, thanking especially Mrs. Samuel L. M. Barlow 
for her hospitality on March 28th, Dr. Watson for his lecture, 
Rockwell Kent for his article "Art and War", Mr, Robert Redfield 
for his invaluable aid in handling legal details and Professor 
Roerich for his helpful suggestions and special articles. During 
the course of the year. Professor Roerich. residing in India, where 
he works untiringly in promulgating Russian art and culture 
through exhibitions, writings and public addresses, has sent several 
articles to ARCA here in America. His article "Podvig" was chosen 
by Mrs. Pregel for publication in Novosselye at the time of the 
launching of the ARCA program in the summer of 1942. and an 
English translation of it is attached to this report. 

The Board wishes to thank also ARCA's Corresponding Secre- 
taries, Mary Coryn and Bronia Drutt, for their splendid work and 
untiring cooperation. 

The Directors of the American Russian Cultural Association, 
deeply gratified in the substantial advancement of Russian-American 
cultural relations and understanding already achieved, look forward 
confidently to 1944 and a constantly expanding sphere of activity 
and service for ARCA. 



The Oxford dictionary has legitimated some Russian words, 
which now find international usage. For instance the words "ukase" 
and "soviet ' are defined in the dictionary. One more word should 
be included m* the untranslatable, significant Russian word 

Strangely enough, not one European language has a word 
approximating its meaning. It is said that the Tibetan language 
has some similar expressions, and perhaps among the sixty thousands 
of Chinese characters there may be something similar, but the Euro- 
pean languages have no equivalent for this immemorial, characteristic 
Russian expression. Heroism heralded by trumpet blasts still does 
not fully interpret the ever-living, all-perfecting idea carried by the 
Russian "podvig*. "Heroic deed" p— is not quite it; "valour" >—> will 
not cover it; "self-denial" — again is not the same; "improvement" 
>-> falls short; "achievement" ^ is entirely different, because it im- 
plies some conclusion, while "podvig" is unlimited. Collect from 
different languages many words which carry the best ideas of ad- 
vancement, and not one of these words will be equivalent to the 
succinct but adequate Russian term "podvig". And how beautiful 
is this word; it is more than advancement *-* it is "podvig "I 

Endless and tireless work for the general good results in great 
progress, and it is this that has given Russia her glorious heroes. 
Great deeds are accomplished without great noise, by simply going 
on and on, considering only the benefit of humanity. 

Among the many noble concepts being fast forgotten is the 
especially neglected principle of humaneness. Ugly or not. the fact 
is that humans are forgetting about humaneness. Destruction, in- 
sults, belittling are taking its place. But, precisely, "podvig" does 
not destroy, does not insult, does not condemn. 

"Podvig" creates and collects good, perfects life, develops 
humaneness. Is it not wonderful that the Russian people have 
created this luminous, elevating concept? The man of "podvig" 
accepts a great burden, and he takes it up voluntarily. In this 
voluntariness there is not a trace of selfish ness, there is only the love 
for one s fellowman, for whose sake the hero struggles along all 
thorny paths. He is a staunch worker; he knows the value of work; 
he feels the beauty of action; and in the tension of labor he welcomes 
every co-worker. Kindliness, friendliness, help to the hard-pressed, 
all this characterizes a hero. 


"Podvig" is not manifested only among the leaders of nations. 
There arc many heroes everywhere. They all work, they are eternally 
studying, and they advance the true culture. 

"Podvig"" means movement, alertness, patience, and knowl- 
edge, knowledge, knowledge! 

If the foreign dictionaries have accepted the words ukase and 
soviet they should by all means include the best Russian word 
— "podvig". 

"Glowing with rapture 
The boy brought benevolent message ■— 
That all shall ascend the high mountain. 
Sxodus of the people he was commanded to telL 

A sacred message, but my dear 
Little envoy, quickly 
Qhange one word. 
When thou farther hast gone 
Thou wilt call thy luminous 
Message, not an "exodua"* 
Bui thou wilt say 

Nicholas Roerich. 



Dudley Fosdick 


Ingbborg Fritschi 


Katherine S. Campbell 
Sina Fosdick 
Dr. E. Markoff 
Sophie Pregel 
Mark Slonim 
Joseph J. Weed