|Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty is still in existence today, broadcasting news and analysis of world events.
So, Radio Free Europe essentially came into existence in 1949 to
news and information from Munich to countries behind the Iron
Curtain. The idea was to employ emigrés and displaced persons
from Eastern Europe to man the broadcasts. The in 1953 it was
decided to set up a different radio station to broadcast to the Soviet
Union. This became Radio Liberty.
Both stations, although technically public, were, in reality, funded and controlled by the CIA which managed the news and information. This was part of the CIA's psychological war campaign directed at the Soviet bloc. One of the more controversial aspects of the work of RFE/RL was using balloons to drop political leaflets in Eastern Europe, especially Czechoslovakia and Hungary. See, Richard H. Cummings, "Balloons Over East Europe: The Cold War Leaflet Campaign of Radio Free Europe".
RFE played a controversial role in the events of 1956 in Poland and Hungary. See Cissie Dore Hill, "Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty" (a publication of the Hoover Institution Archives).
"throughout the disorder, the head of RFE’s Polish desk, Jan Nowak, urged restraint and prudence, keeping the broadcasts in line with RFE’s policy of liberalization over liberation. The Hungarian desk, however, had no Jan Nowak to urge restraint. Bill Griffith, chief policy adviser in Munich, cautioned émigré broadcasters against overpraising reform leaders lest RFE provide ammunition to hard-liners preparing to counterattack. This was followed by a memo counteracting the former policy, demanding an all-out propaganda offensive from newly appointed RFE director W. J. Convery Egan in New York.
It should not be surprising that the communist bloc did everything possible to
try and silence the stations. There were repeated efforts to jam
the radio broadcasts; there were assassinations of some of the RFE
experts; there was an attempt at poisoning everyone who worked at RFE;
and then there was the explosion, set by the East Germans, that blew up part of the radio station HQ in 1981.
It is interesting that even in
2006, the Russian government is uncomfortable with the news service
provided by Radio Liberty and has taken measures to shut the service
down in Russia. See Russia Curtails Radio Free Europe from the Washington Post, 7 July 2006.
Radio Liberty: 50 Years (Hoover Institution archival exhibit with a timeline, directory of key people, organizational structure, etc.)
page is copyright © 2006, C.T. Evans
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