60 Years of Radio Free Europe in Munich and Prague

Voices of Freedom-Western Interference? 60 Years of Radio Free Europe in Munich and Prague

28-30 avril 2011


“Volá hlas svobodného Ceskoslovenska, rozhlasová stanice Svobodná Evropa…(Here is the voice of free Czechoslovakia, Radio Free Europe…)”-with these words, the American radio station, Radio Free Europe (RFE), began regular broadcasting from Munich on May 1, 1951. Its broadcasting services to other Eastern and East Central European countries followed in quick succession. Today RFE/RL continues to broadcast from Prague to several Arabic, Asian, and CIS states.

Against the background of discussions between “East” and “West”, between “free democracies” and socialist “people’s republics”, post-war radio broadcasters gained a new significance. In contrast to the traditional media, radio waves could penetrate the “Iron Curtain”. As a relatively new medium, radio assumed a new role as a mediator of information, worldviews, opinions, and ru-mour across state borders and the Cold War divide in 1950s Europe-similar to the internet today. Radio Free Europe shaped “images” of the “East” and the “West” in both East and West, and can thus be seen as an important and abiding protagonist in the Cold War.

On the occasion of Radio Free Europe’s sixtieth anniversary, the Czech Center and Collegium Carolinum in Munich and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague (ÚSTR) organize an international conference in Munich on April 28-30, 2011. Researchers from the U.S., Germany, East Central Europe and Scandinavia will present their latest works on RFE’s activities and structures, as well as on the reception and role this broadcasting station played during the Cold War era.  Moreover, a panel discussion (“Voices of Freedom?”-International Broadcasting Today), two round table discussions with witnesses, and a film screening will be part of the conference.

The conference and the two round table discussions will take place at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München, Senatssaal. The panel discussion will be held on Friday, April 29, 8 pm, at the America House, Karolinenplatz 3, 80333 München. The film screening will take place on Saturday, April 30, 6 pm, at Neues Arena Kino, Hans-Sachs-Str. 7, 80469 München.

The conference is held under the auspices of Horst Seehofer, Bavarian Minister President, and Karel Schwarzenberg, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Please register in advance with: Martina Niedhammer (m.niedhammer@extern.lrz-muenchen.de)

28 April 28 2011

(Senatssaal der LMU München, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München)

9.00-9.30 – Conference Opening: Marcel Huber (Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery), Rudolf Jindrák (Czech Ambassador to Germany), Martin Schulze Wessel (Collegium Carolinum/LMU München), Zuzana Jürgens (Czech Center Munich), Daniel Herman (The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague)

Panel 1: International Broadcasting as Cold War Instrument

9.30-11.15 :

  • Igor Lukes (Boston University/USA): “Block Formation and Exile in the Early Cold War”
  • Alexander Badenoch (Utrecht University/Netherlands): “Iron(ic) Curtains: Technology, Territory, and the New Role of Broadcasting in Post-War Europe”

11.15-11.45 – Coffee break

11.45-13.00 :

  • Christian Henrich-Franke (Siegen University/Germany): “Within a Juridical Loophole: Radio Free Europe and the International Legality of Broadcasts across the Iron Curtain”
  • Ioana Macrea-Toma (Center for Advanced Studies, Sofia/Bulgaria): “Communicating across the Iron Curtain. RFE as a Case of (Non)-Interactions and (Mis)Perceptions”

13.00-14.30 – Lunch break

Panel 2: The Foundation of RFE and its Activities in the US-American and (West) German Context

14.30-15.45 :

  • Simo Mikkonen (Jyväskylä University/Finland): “The Freedom Radios in the U.S. Cold War Strategy: A Discussion about the Establishment, Projects, and Aims of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty”
  • A. Ross Johnson (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, and Hoover Institution, Stanford University/USA): “Radio Free Europe-an American Station in the FRG”

15.45-16.15 – Coffee break

16.15-17.30 – Richard H. Cummings (Düsseldorf/Germany): “The Tangled Web: The Central Intelligence Agency, the Crusade for Freedom, and Radio Free Europe”

17.30-18.30 – Round table discussion with witnesses: “RFE from the Perspective of its Staff Members”, chaired by Zuzana Jürgens (Czech Center Munich)


29 April 2011

Panel 3: Program Content and Journalistic Practice at RFE

9.00-10.00 :

  • Susan Haas (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania/USA): “Radio Free Europe’s Central News Room: A Foundational Description and Analysis”
  • Anna Bischof (LMU Munich/Germany): “Research, Program Formats, and RFE Management Guidelines. A Look a the Czechoslovak Service”

10.00-10.30 – Coffee break

10.30-11.30 :

  • Petru Weber (Szeged University/Hungary): “The Role of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian and Hungarian Language Programs in Raising Public Awareness about Ceausescu’s National Policy towards Ethnic Minorities”
  • Anamaria Neag (Lund University/Sweden): “Radio Free Europe and the Fall of Communism in Romania: The Presentation
  • of the Events of December 1989 in Romanian RFE Broadcasts”

11.30-12.45 – Round table discussion with witnesses: “External perceptions of RFE”, chaired by Petr Brod (Journalist, Prague)

12.45-14.45 – Lunch break

Panel 4: Reception and Reactions in East Central Europe

14.45-16.00 :

  • Jane L. Curry (Santa Clara University, California/USA): “The Impact of Radio Free Europe on the Polish Communist Elites”
  • Rüdiger Ritter (Forschungsstelle Osteuropa, Bremen University/Germany): “The Unknown Listener: The Reception of Radio Free Europe and Voice of America in Poland and Czechoslovakia”

16.00-16.30 – Coffee break


  • Melissa Feinberg (Rutgers University, New Brunswick/USA): “Radio Free Europe and the Response to the Slánský Trial in Czechoslovakia”
  • Prokop Tomek (Military History Institute Prague/Czech Republic): “Attempts by the Czechoslovak Communist Regime to Hinder RFE Broadcasting”
  • Milan Bárta (The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague/Czech Republic): “The Temporary Cessation of Interference to the Reception of Radio Free Europe in Czechoslovakia in 1968”

20.00 – Panel discussion at Amerika Haus, Karolinenplatz 3, 80333 München “Voices of Freedom?-International Broadcasting Today”, with the President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Henrik Ilves, the U.S.  Consul General in Munich Conrad R. Tribble, Prof. Dr. Hans J.  Kleinsteuber (University of Hamburg), Abbas Djavadi (RFE/RL), and Ingo Mannteufel (Deutsche Welle). Chaired by Petr Dudek (Ceský rozhlas).

30 April 2011

Panel 5: The Free Europe Committee: Activities Beyond Broadcasting

10.00-11.15 :

  • Yuliya Komska (Dartmouth College/USA): “‘Listen and You’ll Get the Picture’: Radio Free Europe on Screen”
  • Alfred Reisch (Hungarian Atlantic Council/Hungary): “The Free Europe Committee’s Secret Book Distribution Program behind the Iron Curtain”

11.15-11.45 – Coffee break

11.45-12.45 – Concluding remarks and discussion

18.00 – Film screening at Neues Arena Kino, Hans-Sachs-Str. 7, 80469 München “Cold Waves” (Alexandru Solomon/Romania 2008, 108 min). English subtitles, entry fee 6.50 EUR

Contact: Anna Bischof (Anna.Bischof@lrz.uni-muenchen.de), Collegium Carolinum, Hochstraße 8, D-81669 München

Homepage: http://www.collegium-carolinum.de/rfe

Venue : LMU München, Senatssaal, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München

Academic sponsors: Collegium Carolinum München; Tschechisches Zentrum München; Institut für die Erforschung Totalitärer Regime Prag

Ajout du 16 septembre 2011 : le compte-rendu du colloque est disponible en allemand sur H-Soz-u-Kult: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/tagungsberichte/id=3750

Emilia Robin

Histoire de la guerre froide, humanités numériques, linux, médiation scientifique

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Emilia Robin

Histoire de la guerre froide, humanités numériques, linux, médiation scientifique

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