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Behind the Iron Curtain

Soviet Estonia in the Era of the Cold War


Edited By Tõnu Tannberg

During the Cold War, Estonia lay behind the Iron Curtain. Even in the grip of Soviet rule, the country underwent many important developments. This volume brings together fourteen papers on the political, economic, and cultural history of Estonia during the Cold War. Their topics range from international relations and the border regime to tourism and the media. The papers are based on extensive archival research and make use of many previously unexamined documents. The resulting book offers new insights into the history of Estonia and of the Cold War on a local level.
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The Press in Soviet Estonia: A Tool of a Closed Society


← 248 | 249 →Tiiu Kreegipuu

Abstract: The press had a distinct role to play in establishing ideological control in Soviet society. In addition to disseminating domestic propaganda, the press was also used as a means of waging ideological struggle in the confrontation between the superpowers. The paper is dedicated to dissecting these themes; the author concludes that, despite everything, the Soviet regime did not manage to gain complete control over the media.

After World War II, the press in Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet media system and was pushed to play an important role in the Cold War. The long-lasting conflict and constant opposition to the West clearly affected the level of everyday journalism, but the dichotomous worldview appears in historiographic perspectives as well. The latter aspect deserves our attention, as it affects the ways of interpreting the media’s role in Soviet Estonia to this day. Conventionally, the Soviet media is still pictured as a propaganda tool of Soviet communist ideology, having hardly anything to do with “real journalism.”

This concept has been a part of the Western interpretation of Soviet society as totalitarian since the early Cold War (e.g., the influential Four Theories of the Press1). For decades Western researchers have acknowledged, if not the entire concept of the theories by Siebert at al., then the understanding of Soviet media ← 249 | 250 →functioning as merely the Communist Party’s (CP) propaganda tool, without any other acceptable function. The press, characterized as the CP’s “sharpest...

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