The Old and the New
This chapter discusses the changes in Soviet-Polish cultural relations, starting in 1956, that embodied a synthesis of old and new trends. Journalists, for instance, could speak their minds on controversial issues without the fear of reprisal that characterized the past years. Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin increased popular hopes for concrete transformations in Polish society. For the first time since the war, the Soviet and Polish governments developed a concrete, detailed legal framework for cultural relations between the two countries. “The Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between Poland and the USSR,” signed on June 30, 1956, in Warsaw, stipulated robust development of cooperation in the fields of science, education, literature, fine arts, music, theater, film, press, radio, television, sport, and tourism. Both parties pledged to exchange mutual experiences in the popularization of culture. But while the new Soviet leaders may have abandoned Stalinist methods of rule, they did not relinquish empire. When Soviet soft power had an inadequate effect, due to its lack of cultural appeal, ongoing Soviet rule ultimately became dependent on force.
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