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Soviet Soft Power in PolandCulture and the Making of Stalin's New Empire, 1943-1957$
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Patryk Babiracki

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469620893

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620893.001.0001

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Unlikely Heroes

Unlikely Heroes

(p.157) 4 Unlikely Heroes
Soviet Soft Power in Poland

Patryk Babiracki

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Moscow's failure to co-opt Polish officials and writers by letting the latter publish contemporary Polish fiction in the USSR. In the popular press, the Soviet authorities encouraged the masses to think of socialist Eastern Europe as a source of pride. But the Soviet reading public was unlikely to learn about the new empire from the East European writers themselves, or from the heroes of their novels. Similarly, the heroic efforts of Soviet soft-power advocates in Poland also went largely unnoticed and unrewarded. Still, the Soviet-Polish efforts to publish new Polish belles lettres in the USSR are historically revealing in three ways. First, they expose the systemic tethers of Stalinism, which forced the Kremlin to ignore the long-term consequences of depriving East European writers of opportunities to publish their works in the USSR. Second, the abortive cultural exchange reveals the severe limitations of the vast Soviet empire in advancing cultural reciprocity. Finally, failed as they were, the attempts to establish reciprocity further underscore the limited utility of “Sovietization” as the dominant analytic category to make sense of Soviet-East European cultural interactions even during the apex of Stalinism.

Keywords:   Polish fiction, USSR, Stalin, cultural exchange, cultural interactions, Stalinism, soft-power initiatives. Sovietization

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