The Cold War Victims or Weapons? The story of the Assembly of Captive European Nations
The wave of the East European exiles which reached the American shores after World War II posed a significant challenge to the American administration. One of the tools introduced to assist and coordinate the exile activities was the National Committee for a Free Europe. Under its aegis, an organization of the East European émigrés was created in the U.S. under a well crafted name – the Assembly of Captive European Nations. From its inception the ACEN represented: Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Officially sponsored by the Free Europe this new organization repeatedly called for free elections and immediate withdrawal of the Soviet troops, which would provide for a “peaceful liberation” of Eastern Europe. ACEN addressed its appeals to the United Nations, the Council of Europe, both American and foreign governments. Although the role of the ACEN was far from decisive and its suggestions were not crucial in shaping of the American foreign policy, supported with the American taxpayers’ money this organization run a series of information campaigns directed both to the U.S. and foreign public. As such, the U.S. government found it a useful element of its anti-Communist propaganda both at home and abroad, as well as a tool to legitimize its Cold War policies. At the same time, the exiles used the opportunities provided by the American government to advance their agenda without compromising their ideological positions. Or, so they’d hoped.
Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz is a visiting Visegrad Fund Fellow at the Open Society Archives. She has already published two books on the U.S. response to the elections in Poland in 1947 and 1989; “Dyplomacja Stanów Zjednoczonych wobec wyborów w Polsce w latach 1947 i 1989” (Warsaw: Neriton, 2007) and “Prasa amerykanska wobec yborów w Polsce w latach 1947 i 1989” (Gdansk: University Press, 2009). Preliminary findings of her current research are already available in two Western language publications: Assembly of the Captive European Nations: “The Voice of the Silenced Peoples” [in:] Anti-Communist Minorities: The Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees in the United States, ed. by Ieva Zake, (Palgrave Macmillan 2009); Die „Stimme Freies Polen“ aus München. Radio Free Europe, die Amerikanische Deutchlandpolitik und die deutschpolnischen Beziehungen [in:] „Inter Finitimos. Jahrbuch zur deutsch-polnischen Beziehungsgaschichte”, Vol.6, Berlin 2008, s.146-170. A monograph on the ACEN in English is scheduled for 2012.