Events

Setting the Record Straight: Radio Free Europe and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

October 24, 2006 // 4:00pm5:30pm
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5th Floor Conference Room
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

with A. Ross Johnson, former director, Radio Free Europe, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, and Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center

Kori Schake, Distinguished Professor of International Security Studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY.

Paul Henze, US Department of State (Retired)

While Hungarians of all political persuasions credit Radio Free Europe with helping to bring about the end of the Communist system, RFE's role during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is widely criticized in Cold War histories. Ross Johnson will present a paper, part of a longer study of the history of RFE and Radio Liberty, that attempts to set the record straight. The study differentiates six principal criticisms in the Cold War literature about RFE's role in Hungary in 1956. It then tests these criticisms against the evidence now available from the RFE 1956 Hungarian broadcast texts and audio and the RFE policy and administrative records, all deposited at the Hoover Archives, as well as declassified State Department and German Foreign Office records, and memoirs of and interviews with participants. The study concludes that Western broadcasts evidently encouraged Hungarians to think that the United States would not let the Revolution be crushed. It argues that this belief arose from factual reporting of public manifestations of support around the world for the Revolution and the emotionalism of some broadcast commentaries rather than from any promises of Western military assistance or advocacy of continued military resistance.

A. Ross Johnson is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, working on Cold War history, international security, and Balkan affairs. He is also Senior Advisor to the President of RFE/RL, Inc., and was formerly Director of Radio Free Europe (1988-1991), Director of the RFE/RL Research Institute (1991-1995), and RFE/RL Counselor (1996-2002). As a staff member of the RAND Corporation from 1969 to 1988 he conducted and managed policy research on Eastern Europe and the USSR. He was visiting RAND research fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, 1983-1985. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967.

Kori Schake is the Distinguished Professor of International Security Studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. Since May of 2005, she is also a Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where she is writing a book on issues of sustainability in American power. During President George W. Bush's first term, she was the Director for Defense Strategy and Requirements on the National Security Council. She was responsible for advising the President, White House Chief of Staff, and National Security Advisor on defense issues, including for the Secretary of Defense's annual review and for the President's annual meeting with the Combatant Commanders; developing Presidential policy initiatives; and orchestrating interagency coordination for all long-term defense planning and coalition maintenance issues.

Paul B. Henze was born in Minnesota in 1924 and served for three years in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. He received a AB from St. Olaf College in 1948 and an AM from Harvard in 1950, where he completed the Regional Program on the Soviet Union, specializing in history, economics, and politics.

Henze served for 30 years in a variety of U.S. Government and government-related organizations, including Radio Free Europe, the Departments of State and Defense, and American Embassies in Turkey and Ethiopia. His government service culminated in four years as a senior staff officer of the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1977-1980. He then became a Wilson Fellow at the Smithsonian and from 1982 to 2002, was a Resident Consultant in the Washington office of RAND. He served as a consultant with many research organizations and participated in conferences in the U.S. and abroad. He has published extensively; his works have been translated into foreign languages, including German, French, Turkish, Russian, Amharic, and Chechen. Henze serves on board of several foundations. He is a member of more than two dozen scholarly, professional and voluntary associations. He has worked closely in recent years with the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has served as adviser the governments of Turkey, Ethiopia, Georgia, and Uzbekistan.

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