AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Reinforcing Finland's Attachment to the West: British and American Propaganda and Cultural Diplomacy in Finland, 1944-1962

by Marek Fields

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies
Year: 2015
Keywords: yleinen historia
Record ID: 1143039
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153952


The study examines British and American propaganda and cultural diplomacy in Finland during the first decades of the Cold War. As the Cold War intensified in the late 1940s, both Britain and the United States sharpened their informational and cultural activities throughout the world. The general goal of these operations was not only the promotion of culture and the Western way of life , but also the containment of communism. For the distribution of anti-communist propaganda and the projection of culture, the British used printed material prepared by a special Foreign Office unit, BBC broadcasts and operations executed by the British Council, while the Americans relied on material produced by the United States Information Agency (USIA), including Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts. The United States also emphasised the importance of the exchange of people through, for example, the Fulbright Programme. The two Western powers operations were also conducted in exceptional environments such as Finland, in which the country s complex relationship with the Soviet Union meant that the distribution of anti-communist propaganda, for example, through Finnish newspapers was always going to be a sensitive affair. Although the British and Americans knew that the majority of Finns resented communism, they were constantly worried about finding the appropriate methods to promote their message to the broader masses. In addition to informational and cultural activities, Britain, and in particular the United States, through the CIA, also supported the anti-communist work of some Finnish organisations. The general objective of this study is to discover the nature of British and American propaganda and cultural diplomacy operations in Finland. The focus lies on their breadth, closer traits and the channels used in their execution. Furthermore, the aim is to discuss how certain characteristics of Finnish society, such as the widely accepted practice of self-censorship, affected the Western powers operational methods. Some emphasis is also placed on examining the effects of these activities and comparing the two campaigns with each other. The study is predominantly based on archived documents of the British Foreign Office, the British Council, the BBC, the US State Department and the USIA. Furthermore, records filed at numerous Finnish archives provide valuable information about the Western operations' distribution processes, while certain Finnish newspapers and magazines make up essential sources for the examination of propaganda content. This study comes to the conclusion that both Britain and the United States carried out reasonably extensive propaganda and cultural diplomacy operations in Finland in the first Cold War decades, and as a consequence supported the country's independence and attachment to the West to a greater extent than has been previously recognised. The placement of British anti-communist articles in Finnish newspapers was especially successful in the early 1950s. The BBC Finnish Service broadcasts, which…