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Everyday Life in Stalinist Estonia

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Olaf Mertelsmann

In Estonia, as in other Eastern European countries, the Stalinist era remains in the center of attention of historians. Politics, repression and resistance dominate the historiography, while everyday life is definitely under-represented. This book attempts to close the gap and focuses on different aspects of everyday life in Stalinist Estonia.

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The Media Audience of Soviet Estonia in the Early Cold War

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The common perception of media audiences in Europe during the early Cold War is of a division into two ideologically antithetical blocs—the East and the West. It is easy to ignore the complexity of individual cases, like those countries that found themselves against their will in one particular camp of the Cold War. In fact, audiences differed greatly from region to region. The influence of for- eign radio broadcasting and propaganda in particular cases should not be under- estimated. In some countries in Eastern Europe, a majority of the audience pre- ferred media from the other side of the Iron Curtain. In addition, one might as- sume that the realities of life shaped attitudes more than any media consump- tion. This case study is based on Estonian and Russian archival sources. More important than party and state documents were oral history sources for the ex- ploration of an early Cold War audience in a Soviet republic. Thus I used oral history interviews, a collection of life stories and the replies to questionnaires sent out to the correspondents of the Estonian National Museum. Of course, a high degree of source criticism is necessary concerning oral history accounts, and we should not take all those statements at face value. Still, official sources and contemporary diaries corroborate the basic conclusions from oral history information related to media use and the audience. One might expect similar findings concerning the early Cold War in other countries or regions in the for- mer Eastern Bloc,...

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