| OF TEXAS
AMERICAN RUSSIAN CULTURAL
^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:
PROF. NICHOLAS ROER1CH.
MRS. SAMUEL L. M. BARLOW DR. G. H. PAELIAN
NORMAN BEL GEDDES GREGOR PIAT1GORSKY
ERSKINE CALDWELL pROF pAUL radOSAVUEVICH
ROBERT L. REDFIELD
DR. EDWIN O. SMITH
PROF. ROMAN JACOBSON
DR. SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY DEEMS TAYLOR
MRS. JOHN HENRY HAMMOND VALERY J. TERESHTENKO
MARIA KURENKO DUDLEY CRAFTS WATSON
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:
PROF. CHARLES A. BEARD EDGAR LEE MASTERS
HELEN CLAPSAETTLE RUTH McKENNEY
PROF. H. OVERSTREET
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS
DR. ARTHUR COMPTON H L menken
DOROTHY CANFIELD FISHER
PROF. RALPH A. GABRIEL
PROF. CHARLES GRAY
PROF. ROSWELLHAM UPTON SINCLAIR
ROCKWELL KENT LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI
ALFRED KREYMBORG PROF. DOUGLAS WILD
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
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
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
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
"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
OFFICERS and BOARD of DIRECTORS
Katherine S. Campbell
Dr. E. Markoff
Joseph J. Weed