It was May 1, 1951, and listeners in Czechoslovakia, who had been behind the Iron Curtain for three years at the time, were able to connect a new station to their radios for the first time.
“The voice of Free Czechoslovakia calls the free Europe radio station,” he will be heard on the air at 11am. The station broadcasts from Munich, Germany, one of the so-called Svobotka and Ferdinand Berutka, the renowned journalist who was the first editor-in-chief of its Czechoslovak broadcast:
“A free radio station in dictatorial mode is a revolution. Such a regime is based and maintained so that only the government can speak and no one can respond. Everyone can be blamed, but no one can defend themselves. But once a part of freedom enters this harsh and artificial system, an argument is made against one. Once the argument is made, it is no longer possible to act without criticism, and once it has found a place to deny the lie, this whole system of pride trembles. “
Getting started with RFE is not easy
However, the journey to broadcast RFE in Czech is relatively long. This preceded Winston Churchill’s speech in Fulton, USA, where he criticized Stalin in 1946 and spoke of dividing Europe by the Iron Curtain.
The independent world felt the need to confront communist rule. Radio was part of the campaign against Moscow because, unlike radio television, it was already in every home.
Radio Free Europe – The idea of creating a new radio station called Radio Liberty was born.
According to Prokop Domek of the Military History Institute in Prague, this is not a station, it is only for information. This is a tool by which the United States has confronted the expansion of Moscow.
In May 1949, the National Committee for a Free Europe was established in the United States to fund Svoboda. The group was led by John Steinbeck and d. Leading American figures, including Eisenhower, expressed support.
However, according to Prokop Tomak, the original idea of funding the RFE was somewhat naive. Broadcasting should be funded mainly by donations, but such large stations broadcasting throughout the day are not enough. So, from the beginning, Svobotka received a lot of subsidy from US government resources.
“For some simplification, the RFE budget was refinanced before the CFA package, which certainly raised suspicions that it was an espionage organization. It was too attractive for communist propaganda. However, Free Europe was primarily a radio station. That is to say, it cannot be understood in an archaic way that it is a spy agency, “says historian Domek.
Perutka vs. Tigrid
Problems with Svobotka’s work were initially caused by a certain ambiguity of the RFE. Its headquarters are located in New York, where the Czechoslovak editorial office is managed by Ferdinand Perutka. However, for practical reasons, it was aired from Germany.
Munich seemed a good choice, as it was a large concentration of post-February exiles and relatively close to the Czechoslovak border. In another legend, journalist Pavel Dikrit accepted the leadership of the Czechoslovak faction in Munich.
However, he did not agree with Ferdinand Borutka on how to address the Svobotka audience. Perutka had his most demanding “educational” style, which he followed in the first Republican presence.
In his usual comments, which he wrote in practice until his death, Talk, he mainly expressed himself. However, Pavel Dikrit wanted to address a wider audience, young people, students, refugees from Czechoslovakia, but also ordinary listeners in Czechoslovakia and the Czechoslovak Communists, among whom he wanted to raise doubts about the pro-Moscow orientation of Czechoslovakia. Powell Decrit eventually left the RFE and then established his testimony.
Svobotka also aired plays
In addition to political news and journalism, the first years of RFE’s broadcasts included cultural and sports news, readings of banned books and plays.
He also had his own band, which organized concerts. It is part of a regular program quiz presented by popular show and singer Zara Kohout, which was attended by refugees from Czechoslovakia.
Svobotka reported on the lives of political prisoners in camps in Czechoslovakia and the Communist press. He continued to address religious issues and the church.
A particular show, News of the Houses, in which those who were able to escape from Czechoslovakia reported that the escape of their loved ones was successful and how they are doing in the West.
Radio-free Europe broadcasts in the 1950s featured a number of well-known names: Josca Bezsker, a versatile journalist, former director of the Borov publishing house in Brook Julius Firth, writers John Sepp or Ekon Hostovsky, translator Peter Demetz, journalist Evan Herben and others.
Powell Decrit wrote about how new teachers came to RFE in the early 1950s:
“When Free Europe started, everyone was a journalist, an actor, a broadcaster. There were three thousand applications, but in Munich we were only able to accept one hundred and twenty. It was so serious that people sat in camps and took them from camp to free Europe, an apartment, a salary, It was a permanent job they enjoyed, a lottery win.In independent Europe, it was true that the newspaper that the Communists were right was clearly advertised.Broadcasting was indeed a powerful tool, not even in propaganda, it was cleverly hidden in broadcasting, sometimes less, sometimes more, but the BBC In fact, it’s not just a lie. “
1968 brought about a major change
After the August occupation and in the first years of normalization, a new wave of refugees came to Munich. They are excellent professionals, journalists and artists.
The wave includes, for example, Lada Ragusanova, Olga Wallace, singer Karel Grill or actor Martin Ettapenek in the early 1980s. Some of these newcomers were former reformist communists. According to Peter Broad, a publicist at the RFE editorial office in Munich in 1987, this caused some internal tensions within the editorial office:
“They did not collide outside in the sense that it would affect the broadcast. On the contrary, the presence of the sixties in the broadcast was very strong. I think mainly of the likes of Milan Schulz, Agnina Kalinova, Karel Justinzke, Slava Valne, who are familiar voices and pens to Czechoslovak listeners and readers., ”Peter Pratt recalled.
“These authors spoke from direct experience of the Czechoslovak regime. And it gave juice and strength to their contributions. Of course, this led to tensions because many forty-eight people could not cope with the fact that former members of the Communist Party were suddenly sitting next to them in the office or studio and had something to say about them. Program. This tension affected personal relationships within the editorial office and led to controversy in the exiled press, ”says Brad.
This was confirmed in an interview he gave me ten years ago, on the eve of the RFE’s 60th anniversary, unfortunately not being the director of its Czechoslovak broadcast in Munich.
Attacks on free Europe
Pavel Bechek was also a target of free Europe’s attacks by the communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, it’s not just hateful propaganda, slanderous propaganda or term satire on DiCapros magazine. Prague sought to let its agents into free Europe.
According to Bezzek, the RFE has fully tested the new changes. However, someone infiltrated it.
He is now the famous Captain Pavel Minogue, who, after his return to Czechoslovakia in 1976, was used by the communist regime to discredit independent Europe. During his time in Munich, he repeatedly suggested that a terrorist attack be carried out against the RFE. It really happened, but not until later. Four people were injured when the terrorist Jackal was behind the 1981 attacks.
One of the first Western journalists to arrive in Prague in the early days of the Velvet Revolution was Pavel Bezzek, who reported from there to Free Europe on events in Wenceslas Square.
Moving to Prague
After the fall of the former regime, a completely different chapter of independent Europe began. On the one hand, it was threatened with extinction, and Congress in the United States, which had so far funded the operation of the RFE, believed that there was no reason to “keep Svoboda alive.” But it turned out that the lack of freedom in the world did not end with the fall of the Iron Curtain.
It continues in many countries around the world, with Radio Free Europe now broadcasting from its new headquarters in Prague Hockey.
“I think, I’m not alone, if it did not go to Prague, independent Europe would not exist anymore. Today it is broadcast elsewhere, but has the same principles. Simply – inform, inform, inform. This is even more so because in countries that are not yet free, people really It is important that people are truly informed of what is going on, and sometimes a lot of bad things happen!
However, in 1995 Svobotka’s Czech editorial office became part of Czech radio. Established Czech Radio 6 / Radio Free Europe station. Finally, in 2013, Czech Radio Plus inherited the station.