The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944-1949

By Norman Naimark; Leonid Gibianskii | Go to book overview
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11
Censorship in Soviet-Occupied Germany

David Pike

Propaganda was the most overt, censorship one of the most covert instruments in the manipulation of political, intellectual, and cultural developments by the Soviets and their allies in Soviet-occupied Germany. 1 Both propaganda and censorship were informed by political ideology, which itself underwent a complex evolution in the postwar years. When the public rhetoric of the time is reviewed at face value, it would seem to provide a chronicle very similar to the "official" history of the Soviet zone. A critical reading of the propaganda, however, yields a representation of Soviet-occupied Germany that significantly diverges from the "official portrayal."

Ideology and propaganda accompanied the Communists' consolidation of power in Soviet-occupied Germany every step of the way, often anticipating political twists and tums before these manifested themselves in concrete actions, and at times revealing far more about German Communists' (acting in concert with their Soviet counterparts) objectives than it was probably wise to divulge. The present discussion is limited, however, to some general comments about the Soviet censorship of the Germans (rather than Soviet self-censorship) in accordance with the prevailing ideology, as well as the role of propaganda in relation to censorship. Establishing a system to police and control German expression was the challenge that faced the Soviet occupation administration (SVAG) in summer 1945.

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