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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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IV Dangerous capitalists. The fear of the American economic enemy (1945–1956)


So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that

the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—

nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which

paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.595

Franklin D. Roosevelt

In his monumental study on the history of Europe in the Cold War period, Polish historian Jerzy Holzer has argued that soon after the end of World War Two anti-Americanism became firmly present in the European ideological and political discourse.596 The primal source of this tendency was the official anti-American attitude of the USSR and socialist states expressed by communist propaganda especially during the Stalinist period. In the Soviet Bloc the USA was treated as the main enemy, a successor of Nazi Germany. In Holzer’s view, the Soviet version of anti-Americanism had two main aspects – economic and cultural. The first aspect was depicted for instance by Ilya Ehrenburg’s597 description of New York. In his words the inhabitants of this city had ‘one common language, the language of hunger, the Dollar and wealth’.598 The cultural aspect of communist anti-Americanism stigmatised American society, mainly the inhabitants of the Southern states for their racism. Writing on this phenomenon Ehrenburg stressed similarities between Americans applying double moral standards and practicing lynches on black people and Nazi Germany’s attitude towards Jews.599

The anti-American tendency was not reduced to the phraseology exploited by the Soviet propagandists. In East Germany the government of the USA was...

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