Ex-director of the Radio Liberty library – about information that destroyed the USSR

This is Radio Liberty

Ex-director of the Radio Liberty library - about information that destroyed the USSR

Ivanna Rebet told in an interview with the Ukrainian edition of Radio Liberty about the mistakes made by Soviet propaganda

“Propaganda production”, “support for nationalism”, “participation in the destruction of the USSR”, “promotion of the imperialist interests of the United States” – all of which Moscow did not accuse the journalists of Radio Liberty, which began broadcasting to the countries of the socialist camp in the 1950s. The Russian service of Radio Osvobozhdenie (as the radio station was called until May 1959) first went on the air on March 1, 1953 – a few days before the death of Joseph Stalin, the Ukrainian service released the first program on August 16, 1954. In Soviet times, the Kremlin called Freedom’s correspondents “agents of the CIA,” and today it considers them “foreign agents.”.

Journalists of the Ukrainian edition of Radio Liberty were found in Munich Ivannu Rebet, which headed the library of Radio Liberty in the midst of the Cold War. Almost all Soviet books and newspapers passed through her hands, and therefore Ivanna, probably, knows better than others what kind of information could “destroy” the USSR.

In Ivanna’s hands is a reel for a reel-to-reel tape recorder with a recording of a Radio Liberty program

The Munich office of Radio Liberty, closed in 1995, was a powerful media structure – the editorial office had a large library and analytical department..

The old building of Munich airport in Oberwiesenfeld, which housed the office of Radio Liberty from 1953 to 1966

In 1976, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were merged into one corporation with headquarters in Munich – it was located in this building next to the English Park on Oettingenstrasse

“Destructive” information

Library at the Munich office of Radio Liberty, which was run by Ivanna Rebet, for the then journalists it was something like the current Internet. There were more than 150,000 books in the library, where one could find encyclopedic data, official statistics on the Soviet republics, and scientific and newspaper articles. These materials often became a real information “bomb” for the Soviet government..

“There were a lot of newspapers, we ordered newspapers for a whole radio station – for each department, there were 800 newspapers … We had to look through Soviet newspapers and find out what was going on there. I had 30-35 employees – quite a lot of work, ”says Rebet.

On the pages of Soviet newspapers, specialists from the analytical department of Radio Liberty looked for discrepancies with encyclopedic data and official Moscow propaganda. Particularly valuable in this context were the regional Soviet publications, which sometimes featured articles on local problems..

Ex-director of the Radio Liberty library - about information that destroyed the USSR

Regional newspapers reported on the shortage of certain products or accidents at production facilities, and could reprimand specific “enemies of the people”. The central Soviet newspapers, as a rule, were silent about such problems. Radio Liberty broadcasters told these stories on the air, and listeners wondered about the economic problems plaguing the Soviet Union..

It turns out that information from Soviet newspapers turned out to be destructive for the USSR, which was thoroughly analyzed and disseminated on Radio Liberty on the air, reinforcing the conclusions with comments from economists and human rights activists..

After the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, Svoboda analysts found publications in the Soviet press about experiments on power units, which ultimately led to the disaster..

The library staff then collected a lot of useful information for listeners from the regions affected by the radiation release, says Rebet.

“We got all the information, analysts studied it, conducted research, journalists used this data in their materials, because there was an explosion in Chernobyl, and they [local residents] wanted to get at least some information about what to do in the event of a radiation threat, and we found such information for them, “recalls the former director of the library..

Radio Liberty was ahead of the Soviet media with reports of the Chernobyl accident and methods of protection from radiation. The Kremlin’s silence on the catastrophe significantly undermined the confidence of Soviet citizens in the communist government.

Employees of the corporation Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in the Munich control room, from where recordings of radio programs in different languages ​​were broadcast to the territory of the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe

The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Ivanna Rebet now works in the library of the Ukrainian Free University in Munich. The university archive contains about a thousand tape recordings of radio Liberty broadcasts of previous years. She names famous Ukrainians whose voices were recorded on tape.

“This is a collection of cassettes, reels. Do you know such dissidents? Rudenko, Pavlychko, Symonenko, Shevelev are a well-known philologist. ” Rebet calls this collection “the history of the radio station,” adding that the voices of human rights defenders recorded by Radio Liberty journalists for listeners in Soviet Ukraine gave people hope – and this is the most important.

“Democracy is very important; it is necessary for a person to be able to think freely, to choose independently, to think … The main thing was information, and the fact that people living there did not forget that they are remembered. It was important for them, ”says Rebet..

World news