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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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General conclusions


The following final remarks on the concept of fear management seek to relate my specific empirical findings to the overall issue of the relationship between dread and propaganda in the Stalinist dictatorships.

The first reflection refers to the role fear played in the process of establishing and legitimising communist power in East Central Europe soon after the end of World War Two. Undoubtedly, the emotion of dread stimulated by the activity of such institutions as police, the MBP and the KBW supported by the NKVD troops played a central role in gaining and solidifying power by the Soviet-backed governments. Numerous historical studies analysing the activity of those formations1033 leave the reader with the conviction that the responsibility for generating the atmosphere of fear in socialist states soon after the war ended rests practically only on institutions practicing various forms of direct physical terror. With this book I demonstrate how far the creation of the atmosphere of constant dread deriving from actions taken, by i.e. the secret police, was supported by communist propaganda. Aside from exploiting positive emotions recruited to explain and promote the political goals and actions taken by the new government, communist propaganda turned out to be an efficient transmitter of fear. On the one hand, the analysis of archival documents shows that the set of threats permanently stressed by the pro-governmental press and Polish Film Chronicle was not always taken seriously by the propaganda receivers. On the other hand, the propaganda impact on shaping...

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