Papers relating to the British-Soviet Friendship Society visit to the USSR



Admin History:

In Britain during the inter-war period, Communist groups such as the 'British-Soviet Friendship Society' and the 'Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR' were actively promoting cultural exchanges between Britain and the USSR. The Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR, founded in 1924, was recognised as a British counterpart of the 'Soviet Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries' (VOKS), and, in principle, aimed to recruit new members from the limited ranks of the intelligentsia. The British-Soviet Friendship Society, established in 1927, which tried to attract supporters from a wider base, mainly from the working class, had a membership of about 12,000 individuals along with some 50,000 affiliated members in 1954.

Alderman Harry Watton visited the USSR in September 1952 as leader of the delegation organised by The British Soviet Friendship Society. Included in the delegation was the News Chronicle journalist/artist ''Vicky'' as an unbiased observer. The delegation (see U DX347/4) got off to a bad start with a three day delay in London due to visa problems, but eventually sailed to Ostend and then travelled by train via Prague having missed the intended flight. The group spent 12 days visiting museums, schools, hospitals and other locations including the Kremlin and the offices of Pravda; they also visited Tbilisi in Georgia.

Papers relating to a visit by a British-Soviet Friendly Society delegation to USSR in 1952.