Cold War on the airwaves : the radio propaganda war against East Germany

General Information

Schlosser, Nicholas J.
Urbana ; Chicago : University of Illinois Press, 2015.
Physical Description
233 p. ; 23 cm.


"Cold War on the Airwaves offers a history of the Berlin-based American propaganda broadcaster Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) and its impact on the political culture of the German Democratic Republic during the early Cold War. Founded in 1946 to serve as America's official radio station in Berlin and as a counterweight to the Communist-controlled broadcasters in East Germany, RIAS quickly became one of the United States' most successful public information operations conducted against the Soviet Bloc. Nicholas Schlosser examines how the RIAS fast became one of the most trusted sources for news inside East Germany during a dynamic period following World War II that included the Berlin Airlift, the East German rising of 1954, and building of the Berlin Wall. Drawing on a wealth of broadcast transcripts, internal memoranda, listener letters, and surveys of East Germans by the U.S. Information Agency, he attributes RIAS's success to its conscious effort to balance accuracy with partisanship. Claiming objective journalism, RIAS reporters nevertheless used the language, style, and tone of neutral broadcasting to openly attack the Soviet Union and undermine the GDR's legitimacy. Through information from East German citizens visiting or escaping to West Berlin, the reporters broadcast stories to counter official statements from East Germany's ruling party, reported on bad economic conditions, and encouraged listeners to oppose the GDR. Thus, as with other U.S. anticommunist public information programs, RIAS attempted to resolve the inherent contradictions of conducting a propaganda operation in name of creating a democratic society built upon an objective press"--
"Founded as a counterweight to the Communist broadcasters in East Germany, Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) became one of the most successful public information operations conducted against the Soviet Bloc. Cold War on the Airwaves examines the Berlin-based organization's history and influence on the political worldview of the people--and government--on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Nicholas Schlosser draws on broadcast transcripts, internal memoranda, listener letters, and surveys by the U.S. Information Agency to profile RIAS. Its mission: to undermine the German Democratic Republic with propaganda that, ironically, gained in potency by obeying the rules of objective journalism. Throughout, Schlosser examines the friction inherent in such a contradictory project and propaganda's role in shaping political culture. He also portrays how RIAS's primarily German staff influenced its outlook and how the organization both competed against its rivals in the GDR and pushed communist officials to alter their methods in order to keep listeners. From the occupation of Berlin through the airlift to the construction of the Berlin Wall, Cold War on the Airwaves offers an absorbing view of how public diplomacy played out at a flashpoint of East-West tension"--


Rundfunk im Amerikanischen Sektor (Berlin, Germany) > History.
United States Information Agency > History.
Radio broadcasting > Germany > Berlin > History > 20th century.
Radio broadcasting > Political aspects > Germany > Berlin > History > 20th century.
Propaganda, American > Germany (East) > History.
Cold War.
United States > Relations > Germany (East)
Germany (East) > Relations > United States.

Bibliographic Information

Nicholas J. Schlosser.
Between Objectivity and Engagement -- Radio Propaganda during the Occupation, 1945-1949 -- Building a Rival Fourth Estate: RIAS's Campaign against East Germany -- RIAS Berlin and the June 17, 1953, Uprising in East Germany -- The East German Campaign against RIAS -- RIAS and the Berlin Crisis of 1958-1961 -- Epilogue: RIAS, 1963-1992.


Item Type Current Location Collection Call Number Volume Info Shelving Location Public Note
BookOSA Archivum LibraryReference collection384.54/53094 SCHReference-

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