Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
Radio Free Europe Information Items
The collection contains 70,292 digitized Information Item reports created by Radio Free Europe’s (RFE) News and Information Department in multiple languages from 1951-1957, covering political, economic, social and cultural issues behind the Iron Curtain. The Items concerned topics ranging from official Communist Party and state apparatus organization to micro-level practices of everyday life.
Information Items were created at RFE Munich based on one or more sources received from field offices operating between 1951 to 1956: transcripts of interviews and conversations, reports, radio program summaries, incoming letters, unofficial translations of official documents. The bulk of the collection consists of transcripts of interviews conducted with émigrés, people traveling to the West as tourists or on business, and defectors. Sources remained anonymous, and their testimonies were screened for reliability, and processed by national evaluation units for Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Romania. The reliability of information, however, cannot always be verified. As finished products, Items were mimeographed and circulated in 140 to 200 copies. While processing was carried out in English, Items also include excerpts from the original language transcription.
The collection represents the sole surviving portion of the total Information Items created over the period 1951-1972, and its subject matter includes propaganda and communication, resistance and purges, Party and state apparatus organization, as well as macro-economics, politics and anti-Communist movements, the informal economy (bribery, corruption, black marketeering), political corruption (alibis, spies, deviationists) and mild subversion (jokes, posters).
1951 - 1956