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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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I ‘German hydra is coming back to life’67. Anti-German media discourse – the benchmark image of the foreign enemy in the communist propaganda (1944–1956)


In the states, where cruel dictators are still reigning,

his bloody shadow is leading the feasts of long knives!

Where keys are grinding in the prison gates,

Where tortured prisoners are yelling with pain,

Where human grievance is omnipresent

Hitler is alive!68

Leon Pasternak69

For the vast majority of Polish society the end of the war meant the end of a direct six-year-long threat to life, but the fear – an aftermath of war – still heavily influenced people’s perception of the postwar reality. The totally new imposed political system arose new concerns. From the very beginning the new authorities, brought into existence in Poland by Soviets in Lublin (July 1944) and then in Warsaw (January 1945), had a difficult task to overcome the mistrust towards the new government from large sectors of Polish society. In such circumstances communist propagandists implemented a strategy of outshining the negative social attitude towards the new government with a phantom of an even more serious threat generated by Western enemies of Poland. In this strategy a central place was given to the figure of the ‘German threat’ that in the postwar reality was supposed to surpass the common social adverse approach towards Soviet-backed authorities.

Apart from the still difficult to estimate number of the enthusiasts of the new rule, many people could not accept the way the new system was introduced. Here ←51 | 52→the example of...

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