Tadeusz (Ted) A. Lipien is an international media executive, journalist, writer, blogger, and press freedom advocate. He was Voice of America (VOA) Polish Service chief during Solidarity trade union’s struggle for democracy, acting VOA Associate Director, and served for a short time as President of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). His articles on U.S. international broadcasting have been published in American Diplomacy Journal, National Review, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner and Digital Journal. He is the author of a book on feminism and Pope John Paul II, O-Books, UK, and Świat Książki, Poland.
As the Voice of America observes its eightieth anniversary in 2022, it may also surprise Americans who know about its existence that in its first years during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) administration, the U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcaster had a long period of intense fascination with Soviet communism—a historic failure, which for many decades has been hidden from Americans and from VOA’s global audiences
In Voice of America – 80 Years of Hidden History: VOA’s Soviet Sympathizers Who Spread Stalin’s Propaganda and Freedom Broadcasters Who Replaced Them, I write about officials and journalists who spread Stalin’s propaganda through Voice of America programs and about freedom broadcasters who are being erased from history while those who had helped Soviet Russia expand its empire are still presented today as paragons of truthful journalism.
The first group of pro-Soviet Voice of America broadcasters was not directly responsible for the Soviet domination over East-Central Europe. The presence of the Red Army played a decisive role. But they made it easier for the Soviet communist dictator Joseph Stalin to enslave about 80 million new victims. For as long as they remained at VOA, they presented their work as a victory for peace, security, democracy, and social progress.
My book will also focus on Silenced Refugees, including those who later worked for the Voice of America but could not always tell their stories. Fortunately, those who ended up working for Radio Free Europe (RFE) were able to speak freely.
I attempt to recover the voices of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children arrested by the Soviets after they had invaded and occupied eastern Poland in 1939 while the Soviet regime was in alliance with Nazi Germany and later ordered an unprovoked attack on Finland, followed by the Soviet annexation of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Thousands were executed; many more Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Russians–Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other religions and nationalities–were deported from their homes in horrible conditions to forced labor camps and collective farms where countless died from hunger, illness, and maltreatment. Some Polish slave laborers managed to leave the Soviet Union in 1942 after Stalin had released them following Hitler’s attack on Russia. They became refugees in the West, but their stories still could not be told.
The U.S. administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, eager to preserve its military alliance with Stalin, used propaganda and disinformation in press releases and Voice of America radio broadcasts to paint a deceptive picture of refugees evacuated from the Soviet Union. After the war, the vast majority of them chose not to return to Soviet-dominated and communist-ruled nations, where they would risk imprisonment and persecution. But many refugees who were Soviet citizens were forced by American and British authorities to return to the USSR against their will.
The effects of Soviet and Western wartime and post-war propaganda and censorship can be seen even today. I try to bring to light the real story of silenced refugees and the stories of many other victims of communist repressions.