The Free Europe Committee (FEC, originally called the National Committee for a Free Europe) was a major instrument of American policy toward Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe during the Cold War. A public-private partnership of the United States Office of Policy Coordination/Central Intelligence Agency and leading members of the American establishment, the FEC organized a multiplicity of programs aimed at utilizing the talent of East Europeans forced into exile by the Communist regimes to promote the peaceful liberation of their countries from Soviet rule and their return to what would later be termed a “Europe whole and free.” The FEC spawned and was supported in part by the Crusade for Freedom, which publicized the Communist threat and solicited contributions from American citizens.

The best known and best researched project of the Free Europe Committee (FEC) was Radio Free Europe. Other activities sponsored by the FEC have received less scholarly attention. These projects included the Free Europe Press (which sent leaflets by balloon and mail and later books by mail and travelers to Eastern Europe), the Free European University in Exile in Strasbourg, the Mid-European Studies Center in New York, National Councils and the Assembly of Captive European Nations, international lecture programs, the associated Crusade for Freedom, and more.

A symposium and workshop, to be held in Gdansk in September 2014, will assemble senior and junior European and American scholars working on Western policy toward Eastern Europe during the Cold War, individual Free Europe Committee projects, and reactions and countermeasures of the Communist regimes. The Gdansk meeting will aim to catalog and synthesize existing research and stimulate additional collaborative scholarship on the impact of a major Cold War instrument of American soft power. Participants will present and compare research findings, identify research gaps, and share knowledge of archival and other sources. A detailed rapporteur’s digest will be published. If sufficient unpublished research is presented, an edited volume of research papers will be published.


From Free Europe to Free Poland: Free Europe Committee in the Cold War

International Symposium, University of Gdańsk, Poland
September 5-6, 2014



  • University of Gdańsk - Uniwersytet Gdański,
  • European Solidarity Center - Europejskie Centrum Solidarności,
  • Institute of National Remembrance - Instytut Pamięci Narodowej 

Institutional Partners

  • Woodrow Wilson Center– Washington, D.C.
  • Roosevelt Study Center – Leiden University
  • Hoover Institution Archives – Stanford, California
  • Open Society Archives – Budapest
  • Helena History Press – Saint Helena, California

Supporting Institutions

Best Western Plus Arkon Park Hotel, Gdańsk, Poland

Sponsoring Organization

Polskie Radio (

Organizing Committee

Chair: A. Ross Johnson (Woodrow Wilson Center and Hoover Institution, Washington/Stanford)
Katalin Kádár Lynn (Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary)
Anna Mazurkiewicz (University of Gdańsk, Poland)
Giles Scott Smith (Leiden University, Holland)

Secretariat: Faculty of History  UG
ul. Wita Stwosza 55 #2.37  
80-952 Gdańsk, Poland