Soviet Estonia in the Era of the Cold War
Images of the Enemy and the Hero in Stalinist Estonian-Language Textbooks
← 196 | 197 →Karin Veski and Anu Raudsepp
Abstract: The article examines images used in Stalinist propaganda —that of the enemy and the hero —in postwar original Estonian-language textbooks in the late-Stalinist Estonian SSR. The authors argue that these images evolved into obligatory elements in textbooks.
It is said that education is the best remedy against propaganda. Although this viewpoint is generally accepted nowadays, it can be inverted by the claim that education is the prerequisite of propaganda, or more precisely, that “every politically oriented education that creates ‘specific values’ is propaganda.”1 Since the state is by its nature a political phenomenon,2 it might be claimed that education is always more or less politicized. The 20th century provides numerous examples of this, and not only in totalitarian systems. We can find sufficient past examples of strong ideological bias and propaganda language in history textbooks in democratic countries as well—for instance, in the United States in the 1950s.3 Another example, studied by Christina Koulouri, involves the defensive and aggressive nationalism revived in Greek school textbooks starting in the 1990s, reflected even in the terminology of geography textbooks.4 The boundary between propaganda and imparting knowledge can be rather nebulous at times. For this reason, we must differentiate between the actual objectives of propaganda and education. In ← 197 | 198 →the words of the propaganda researcher Philip Taylor, “propaganda tells people what to think whereas education teaches people how to think.”5
The objective of this...
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