From Free Europe to Free Poland: Free Europe Committee in the Cold War

September 05, 2014 // 9:00amSeptember 06, 2014 // 6:00pm

The Free Europe Committee (FEC, originally called the National Committee for a Free Europe) was a major instrument of American policy toward Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe during the Cold War. A public-private partnership of the United States Office of Policy Coordination/Central Intelligence Agency and leading members of the American establishment, the FEC organized a multiplicity of programs aimed at utilizing the talent of East Europeans forced into exile by the Communist regimes to promote the peaceful liberation of their countries from Soviet rule and their return to what would later be termed a “Europe whole and free.” The FEC spawned and was supported in part by the Crusade for Freedom, which publicized the Communist threat and solicited contributions from American citizens.

The best known and best researched project of the Free Europe Committee (FEC) was Radio Free Europe. Other activities sponsored by the FEC have received less scholarly attention. These projects included the Free Europe Press (which sent leaflets by balloon and mail and later books by mail and travelers to Eastern Europe), the Free European University in Exile in Strasbourg, the Mid-European Studies Center in New York, National Councils and the Assembly of Captive European Nations, international lecture programs, the associated Crusade for Freedom, and more.

A symposium and workshop, to be held in Gdansk in September 2014, will assemble senior and junior European and American scholars working on Western policy toward Eastern Europe during the Cold War, individual Free Europe Committee projects, and reactions and countermeasures of the Communist regimes. The Gdansk meeting will aim to catalog and synthesize existing research and stimulate additional collaborative scholarship on the impact of a major Cold War instrument of American soft power. Participants will present and compare research findings, identify research gaps, and share knowledge of archival and other sources. A detailed rapporteur’s digest will be published. If sufficient unpublished research is presented, an edited volume of research papers will be published.


From Free Europe to Free Poland: Free Europe Committee in the Cold War

International Symposium, University of Gdańsk, Poland
September 5-6, 2014



  • University of Gdańsk - Uniwersytet Gdański,
  • European Solidarity Center - Europejskie Centrum Solidarności,
  • Institute of National Remembrance - Instytut Pamięci Narodowej 

Institutional Partners

  • Woodrow Wilson Center– Washington, D.C.
  • Roosevelt Study Center – Leiden University
  • Hoover Institution Archives – Stanford, California
  • Open Society Archives – Budapest
  • Helena History Press – Saint Helena, California

Supporting Institutions

Best Western Plus Arkon Park Hotel, Gdańsk, Poland

Sponsoring Organization

Polskie Radio (

Organizing Committee

Chair: A. Ross Johnson (Woodrow Wilson Center and Hoover Institution, Washington/Stanford)
Katalin Kádár Lynn (Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary)
Anna Mazurkiewicz (University of Gdańsk, Poland)
Giles Scott Smith (Leiden University, Holland)

Secretariat: Faculty of History  UG
ul. Wita Stwosza 55 #2.37  
80-952 Gdańsk, Poland


Event Sessions: 


Friday, 5 September 2014

9:00-9:15 OPENING - at the University of Gdańsk

9:15-10:45 PANEL 1 - at the University of Gdańsk
The Role of the Émigrés in Early Cold War American Foreign Policy

Chair: Jakub Tyszkiewicz (University of Wrocław)
Panelists: Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham)
Anna Mazurkiewicz (University of Gdańsk)
Michael Warner (American University, Washington, former CIA History Staff)
Hugh Wilford (California State University, Long Beach)

11:15-12:45  PANEL 2 at the University of Gdańsk
The Origins of the Free Europe Committee and the Launching of the Radio Free Europe
Chair: A. Ross Johnson (Woodrow Wilson Center and Hoover Institution, Washington/Stanford)
Panelists: Anna Bischof (University of Munich)
Pawel Machcewicz (Museum of the Second World War and and Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Gdansk/Warsaw)
András Mink (Open Society Archives, Budapest)
Ioana Macrea Toma (Open Society Archives, Budapest)                                 

13:00-14:00 Lunch Break hosted by Helena History Press

14:15-15:45 PANEL 3 - at the University of Gdańsk
Exile Support Programs of the Free Europe Committee
Chair: Katalin Kádár Lynn (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
Panelists: Veronika Durin-Hornyik (University of Paris-East)
Jonathan H. L’Hommedieu (Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah)
Marius Petraru (California State University, Sacramento)
Francis Raška (Charles University, Prague)

16:15-18:45 PANEL 4 - at the University of Gdańsk
From Leaflets to Books: The Printed Word Program of the FEC and Beyond
Chair: Władysław Bułhak (Institute of National Rememberance, Warsaw)
Panelists: Leonard Baldyga (former US Information Agency, Washington)
Małgorzata Choma-Jusińska (Institute of National Rememberance, Lublin)
Paweł Sowiński (Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)
Eyewitness testimonies:
Mirosław Chojecki (independent publisher, film producer, Paris, Warsaw)
Robert Gillette (former LA Times correspondent in Moscow and Warsaw)
Andrzej Mietkowski  (Polish Radio Portal, Warsaw, former RFE))
Witold Pronobis (former RFE Polish Independent Press Unit)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

9:00-9:30 The Right to Know: Promoting Free Media in Central and Eastern Europe
Stephen D. Mull, US Ambassador to Poland

9:30-11:30 PANEL 5 – at the University of Gdansk
Crusade for Freedom: impact in America and behind the Iron Curtain
Chair: Giles Scott Smith (Leiden University)
Panelists: Richard Cummings (independent historian, Düsseldorf, former RFE/RL Director of Security)
Kenneth Osgood (Colorado School of Mines, Golden)
Richard Rowson (Council for a Community of Democracies, Washington, former FEC Director for Policy and Planning)
Prokop Tomek (Military History Institute, Prague)

12:00 – 13:00   PUBLIC LECTURE - at the University of Gdansk

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia 

14:30-18:00 Research Workshop (Meeting closed to general public – by invitation only)

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  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
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