Radio Free Europe: 60 Years in the Service of Free Poland

Dec 06, 2011

A conference, "Radio Free Europe 60 Years in the Service of Free Poland," convened in Wroclaw on December 6 under the sponsorship of the Jan Nowak-Jezioranski East European College, the Institute of History of Wroclaw University, the Ossolineum, and the Free Speech Association, under the patronage of Bronislaw Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland. Financial support was provided by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Institute of History.

This was the first of several events planned in Poland in 2011-2012 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of RFE Polish broadcasts from Munich on May 3, 1952. Conference panel discussions focused on "RFE in My Life," "RFE, the Emigration, and the Homeland," "RFE's Role in International Relations," and "The Role of Free Media in the Contemporary World." Publication is forthcoming, and the conference program and list of panelists are available here (in Polish).

President Komorowski welcomed the conference participants in a letter which read in part:

"The mission of Radio Free Europe was to provide the truth to peoples deprived of their freedom by the communist regime and subjected to official slanderous propaganda. Today, in an era of electronic media, it is difficult to imagine the enormous importance at that time of being able to listen behind the Iron Curtain to radio programs that provided factual information about the situation in the world and in Poland. The history of the RFE Polish Service is a story of dedicated people - political activists, journalists, émigrés - who took risks to serve the cause of freedom. Thanks to [Jan Nowak- Jeziornaski], that great Pole, and his colleagues, the Polish Service of Radio Free Europe became an integral part of the Polish struggle for freedom.

There are countries today, some not far from our borders, where free access to information is blocked. So the mission of Radio Free Europe has not ended but continues to be to provide people with the truth. For me, as an activist of the democratic opposition, the most important lesson from the victory of RFE over the lies of the Communist system is the certain belief that truth cannot be suppressed. It is important that we always remember the crucial connection between truth and democracy...Only equal access to factual and objective information can guarantee that citizens are able can make knowledgeable and independent decisions. This places an enormous responsibility on the media, because the quality and objectivity of the information it conveys conditions the quality of democratic political life."

A copy of the conference program is available in PDF format below.

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RFE Conference-programme.pdf131.8 KB

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