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Fear Management

Foreign Threats in the Post-War Polish Propaganda. The Influence and the Reception of the Communist Media (1944-1956)


Bruno Kamiński

The so-called ‘people's power’ – the communists – tended to make Poles afraid. At first – afraid of the Anglo-Saxon imperialists, then of the German revisionists, Zionist 5th column and ‘Kuroń and Michnik walking on the CIA’s leash’. The creation of the atmosphere of fear featuring Germans and their alleged ‘return’ lasted until 1970. In his Fear Management Bruno Kamiński reaches to the origins of this story. Based on a huge selection of sources this analytical study exhibits how in the first 15 postwar years Poles were threatened with the Western world. In the beginning, the Germans were chosen to play the role of the main enemy, dethroned later by the Americans. At the same time, the author proves that fear next to nationalism and ethnic hostility developed into one of the pillars legitimizing the communist system.

Marcin Zaremba, Polish Academy of Science, University of Warsaw

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East Europeans had an awful manner to justify everything with their – tough as it was – history. They explained their bon ton failings and their poverty with numerous wars and occupations; their nervousness – with fear they experienced. Yet, it is far from truth that the Western world was not familiar with fear and anxiety, even looking at a short perspective of a postwar reality. The 1973 oil crisis resulted in an anxiety unknown for 30 years. The Exxon Valdez oil spill alerted people to the problem of a natural environment protection. The HIV epidemic of the 1980s reminded of fear of the infectious diseases. In his Risk Society Ulrich Beck pointed at new threats: malfunctions of nuclear power plant, unhealthy food or a global warming. Western societies were living in fear of an atomic conflict. In France and Switzerland there are single family houses with tiny shelters serving today in most cases as junk cubbies or wine storage. There is a broad literature dealing with this fear condition of the second half of the twentieth century.

And yet traumas of Eastern Europeans were different. I would like to avoid falling into megalomania by praising ‘our’ suffering. Still, if one wants to understand inhabitants of this part of Europe, their fear must be properly comprehended. Their dread was carried like an old suitcase, the one hard to shut. Once you know its content, you will understand the history of this part of Europe. Just like in the principle:...

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