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- methods and techniques
The methods and techniques used in order to get back defectors or émi
grés cover a wide range varying in intensity. They showed also vigor and imagination exploiting the local redefection possibilities to a maximum extent and focusing upon individuals and groups living under special economic
and psychological strains.
The methods and techniques described hereafter were used during the Soviet bloc redefection campaign either one at a time or in combination,
the cardinal trait being flexibility and imagination. They would also vary from country to country. They included:
PRINTED MATTER: pamphlets, circulars, newspapers and magazines (45).
The · Return to the Homeland Committees published different material. The tone of the newspapers and magazines was very much the same, trying to incite national feeling, paint a picture of well-being at home, dispel any fear of punishment for leaving or other punishable acts ( announcements of amnesties ); they also dwelled on the pointlessness of being so far from home and loved ones and promised that all will be well upon return.
Personal letters from family and friends or former refugee compatriots who had returned generally bore the following message: "Come home, we long to see you. Things are different now; you will be safe and well." Most letters were also very anti-US in tone, criticizing refugee living conditions in the West. Many letters were written under compulsion but the writers often found ways to later warn the addressee, in subsequent letters and using hidden words, not to come back (46). Letters were also sent by diplomatic representatives, among others, plaining amesty decrees (47). Chain-letters were used in the Czechoslovak redefection campaign. Anonymous and hand-written in simple Czech, they had a rather sentimental than political content. They were free of any open communist propaganda or even of any undertone of leftist ideology (48).
included personalized radio appeals, directed, by name, at individual refugees, recorded by members of the family often the mother - (49), but also talks, commentaries and interviews with redefectors. Discussions of abstract, impersonal issues and of ideology and politics were avoided (50).
PRESS CONFERENCES BY RETURNEES:
for both internal and external propaganda use (51).
PERSONAL CONTACTS WITH INDIVIDUAL REFUGEES:
included sudden phone calls or unexpected visits by agents or diplomatic personel of Soviet bloc countries (52). It also involved visits by individuals ( usually family members ) or dele gations representing various professional, academic and cultural groups. During their visits to the West, they relayed written and verbal messages from friends and relatives urging to retum hame (53).
rumors were spread by agents who infiltrated the émigré comunities. For instance, Polish agents in West Germany had started the rumor that DM 1,000 would be given to each person who redefected (54).
AMNESTIES & OTHER GOVERNMENTAL DECREES:
amnesty decrees proclaimed by the different Soviet bloc governments played a key role in attracting refugees back to their respective Soviet bloc countries since their goal was to alleviate the fears of émigrés and refugees ( defectors included) that they would be prosecuted or punished for acts considered inadmissible or criminal in nature by those governments (55).
THREAT OF REPRISAL:
against relatives behind the Iron Curtain creating a moral responsibility. The threat could materialize into economic pressure ( loss of job or place to live ), jailing and / or torture of relatives (56).
going from bullying tactics by strong-arm men to kidnappings and murders (57).
appeals and themes
The Soviet bloc redefection campaign used basic appeals supported by
a number of themes. The interest and value of these appeals and supporting
themes is that most of them have retained their actual aspect as have several
of the methods and techniques previously discussed. Appeals and themes can
basically be reduced to the following categories (58):
SENSE OF FAMILY:
the loneliness of the loved ones at hame; the need for help at home; forgiveness for having deserted home; the 'loving arms' of the family; the loved ones are waiting for you; child care at home is excellent; children have the right to be educated in their mother tongue at home.
DISSATISFACTION OF REFUGEE LIFE:
the black-and-white contrast picture of life abroad as opposed to life at home is one of the cardinal arguments during the campaign and has retained its presence as we will see later on.
nhappy side includes the following supporting themes: loneliness; solitude; rootlessness of life outside the motherland or of people without a homeland; hostile environment surrounding the refugee; the shameful and insulting conditions of a refugee's life; treatment as a foreigner; the waste of human talent outside the motherland; danger of intellectual death for artists and writers (59); attacks on refugee leaders who exploit and mislead the rank-and-file refugee (60). The sumy and rejoycing side of the picture covered: the warmth of home and the fruitful life at home for writers and artists.
the welcoming national home; forgiveness for having simed against the mother ( father-) land; the 'nobility' of the mother (father-) land; the history and fdklore of the country; symbols of mother (father-) land = rivers, national soil, ...; the unhappy lot of being a foreigner in a foreign country; patriotic and sentimental works of literature = national cultural homeland; the economic & social growth of the country; the reconstruction of the country; the bright future of the country and there is place for you in the 'new' country.
the material well-being of the returnees; and expansion at home.
economic prosperity, thus jobs,
DESIRE FOR NORMAL FREE LIFE:
freedom of choice of employment; freedom of movement and religion; the 'people' will welcome and accept you as one of them (61).
One has to bear in mind that the effectiveness of the Soviet bloc re
defection campaign cannot exclusively be judged by the number of the people who decided to retum, but also by the enormous propaganda value gained from it for the Soviet bloc countries, however small the percentage of returnees was in reality. Moreover, the campaign had, according to the report of the Donovan Emergency Commission, a tremendous unsettling effect among
the members of refugee commities in every free country, generating suspi
cions and insecurity. Even in the United States, refugees who thought their
whereabouts had been well concealed were shocked by a sudden phone call or
an unexpected visit from a communist agent. Even contacts were made or letters
sent to Soviet bloc émigrés only a few days after they had moved to a new lo
Between January 1, 1955 and January 1, 1956, the Donovan Commission
reported that 1,158 refugees ( excluding East Germans, Poles from France &
Yugoslavs ) returned to their homeland (63).
Following table gives a breakdown by nationality and by area I (64)
See also exhibit # 1 for other breakdowns ):